La. lawmakers consider bills to improve safety of traffic stops

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana lawmakers are working to change up how police and drivers interact with each other during traffic stops.

A House panel advanced two bills Tuesday aimed at ensuring safe, peaceful interactions on the side of the road.

One bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, would train new drivers on what to do when they are stopped by law enforcement. The bill would require those "best practices" to be a part of driver's education.

"The officers have a plethora of training. How to stand, to turn on their camera, to do the different things at a traffic stop," Gatti said. "What we've found
is the other side of the coin did not have a lot of training."

Recounting his own recent experience, Gatti noted that being pulled over by police can be nerve-wracking.

"I put my hands at 9 and 3 o'clock, I had my paperwork ready, and here I am a new state senator, and I had so much anxiety I was starting to sweat a little bit," he told the House lawmakers.

Meanwhile, a bill by Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge, would change how law enforcement officers act during those traffic stops. It requires officers to search an electronic database to check if the driver has insurance, even before approaching the car.

If the vehicle does not come up on the database, the officer can then ask to see the insurance card.

The goal, Jordan noted, is to avoid drivers needing to reach into their glove box.

"The officer doesn't know if what he's reaching for what he's asked for, if he's reaching for a weapon. His hands aren't able to be seen," Jordan said. "The driver has some of the same apprehensions and fears."

The committee approved both measures without objection, sending them to the House floor for consideration.

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