Assemblyman Herb Conaway said informing motorists of their rights during police stops would "reduce some of the untoward things that occasionally happen." (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)
Two state lawmakers want to require the state to print motorists’ rights and responsibilities during police stops in the driver’s manual, a measure intended to make interactions with cops safer.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. (D-Burlington) and Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Essex) introduced the bill earlier this month.
“It’s certainly been raised in the public’s mind that more often than anybody would like, the interactions between drivers and police are less than happy ones, if you will — they’re fraught with a lot of tension on both sides,” Conaway said in an interview. “And so informing the public about those interactions will help to reduce some of the untoward things that occasionally happen.”
A New York Times examination of police car stops last year found hundreds of unarmed drivers have died during routine car stops nationally after officers reacted with outsized aggression. In New Jersey, none of the 29 people involved in fatal police encounters last year died during car stops, although seven died while fleeing police or car stops.
Conaway said as a Black man and father of a grown son and daughter, he has counseled his children to move mindfully and keep their hands where they can be seen if they’re ever stopped by a police officer while driving.
“There are few Black males who’ve driven around the roads anywhere in this country that have not had some, I’ll use the word unfortunate experiences at the hands of the police on the roadside,” Conaway said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has information on its website about drivers’ rights and responsibilities during car stops.
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