Minnesota plan to reduce police shootings at traffic stops with CLEAR BAGS draws contempt

Officials in Minnesota have received heavy backlash for promoting cheap, clear plastic bags to store documents in vehicles as an easy way to “reduce deadly force encounters” with police during traffic stops.

The state’s Department of Public Safety posted images of the see-through pouches to their social media accounts and revealed that “several law enforcement agencies across the state” will soon be handing them out to citizens at community events.

The bags are meant to store a driver’s license, car registration, and other papers so an officer is aware of what a driver is reaching for when pulled over for a possible traffic violation. DPS said the purchase of the pouches is part of an effort “to help reduce deadly force encounters between law enforcement and citizens during traffic stops.”

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The ‘novelty’ has been promoted by some activists as a way to improve citizens’ interactions with police. Valerie Castille, whose son Philando was killed during a traffic stop in 2016, helped create the pouches, and Minnesota officials cited her support of the product when making their announcement. 

While the new initiative has found some supporters, other activists have been quick to blast Minnesota officials for seeing clear bags as a solution to “deadly” police encounters, arguing that if “deadly force encounters” are this big of a problem, then perhaps further training and reforms are needed for the police departments themselves.

“America: Where the police will give you a handy pouch instead of stop killing you,” activist Brittany Packnett tweeted in reaction. 

“Have you considered buying some out of reach holsters too,” writer Tom McKay added.

Minnesota has become a focus of police reform activists in recent years, with multiple high profile police-involved deaths becoming central to the Black Lives Matter movement. The most recent one, when George Floyd died in May of 2020 in Minneapolis, touched off riots across the US. Officer Derek Chauvin was first fired, then charged and convicted of murder.

In April of this year, police came under fire once again after Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop. The officer involved in the Wright shooting has since been charged with manslaughter, with some officials arguing she reached for her gun on accident, intending to originally use a taser.

According to Minnesota records on police misconduct, in 2020 there were over 100 investigations into officers’ use of force, whether by breaking department policy or committing allegedly criminal behavior.

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