No doubt the Raleigh police had good intentions in producing an eight-minute video instructing people on how they should respond in a traffic stop. But good intentions weren’t good enough, and police should pull the video and redo it with some changes.
In the video, a motorist is pulled for running a stop sign. The narrator says, “Remain calm and pull over. Put your hands on the steering wheel.” Thereafter, the video focuses on how the motorist should cooperate with police. It says at one point, “Answer any questions the officer has.”
But state law requires drivers only to identify themselves and produce their driver’s licenses and registrations. They don’t have to say anything else. Alyson Grine, a criminal law expert from UNC-Chapel Hill, made that point and others in a blog post critiquing the video. She notes that people may want to expedite a traffic stop by answering all questions – but they’re not obligated to do so, and they shouldn’t forget that they have rights.
This video is too light on the rights of motorists and too heavy on the notion of complete deference to officers. It belongs on the cutting room floor.