Here’s a novel idea: Try listening to police during traffic stops

Here’s a novel idea: Try listening to police during traffic stops

Sandra Bland’s tragic death revived questions about racial profiling, police conduct and civil rights in America.

We’ll never know all the facts about that incident, but I know a little about what Ms. Bland and countless other Americans have experienced.

Seven months ago, I was stopped, detained and ultimately released outside Houston in an arbitrary — but probably legal — operation by a Drug Enforcement Agency officer. My strategy was a little different from some: I decided I’d do the listening and let the officer do the talking.

I was alone, driving east on Interstate 10 when the officer drove beside me in a gray, unmarked SUV and signaled for me to pull over. He approached my 5-year-old Toyota Corolla on the passenger side, hand on his sidearm. He asked if I had a weapon (I didn’t) and politely ordered me to step out of my car and stand halfway between his vehicle and mine, in a negative space 10 meters away from each vehicle. I followed all commands and handed over my license and registration. He ran the plate and asked a few perfunctory questions. All of this took about 12 minutes.

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