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

Here’s a novel idea: Try listening to police during traffic stops
Car of St. Louis policeman ambushed on 14 Jul. (Image: KMOV)

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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