Videos by Conn. Police Group Aimed at Improving Officer-Driver Interactions

May 27, 2024
The new "Breaking Barriers" video campaign by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association is designed to "create safer interactions between law enforcement and the community."

By Jamila Young

Source Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.

When young drivers learn the rules of the road, they learn how to safely make a left-hand turn and how far away they should park from a fire hydrant. What they don't always learn, however, is what it's really like to be pulled over by a police officer.

But through a new video campaign, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association is reaching out to drivers, both young and old, on what to expect during a traffic stop.

The goal of the "Breaking Barriers" program, established by the association's Traffic Safety Committee, is to "create safer interactions between law enforcement and the community," said the committee's chairman, Watertown Police Chief Josh Bernegger.

Using YouTube videos funded through a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation, Bernegger said the program will help educate drivers on how to interact with police and not make assumptions, as he and other committee members have recognized a growing disconnect between youth and police over the past few years.

"Drivers draw on assumption, from TV, movies, and what they've seen in the media of negative events around the country on traffic stops," he said.

Many officers have been involved in instances when a young driver will not stop, Bernegger said, not because they are trying to evade the police, but because they're scared of what may happen when they are pulled over.

"The ones we do catch don't have warrants. They have a valid license," he said. "They just say they were scared and didn't know what to do, so they took off. That's a problem. We really need to address that."

Currently, the committee has produced two videos, each available on YouTube in both English and Spanish. The first depicts a typical traffic stop featuring officers from the Manchester Police Department. In it, a young driver is pulled over for speeding, and explains that the officer can be just as nervous as the driver in such a situation. The video continues with examples of what an officer may ask and why more than one officer responds to the stop.

The second video is done in an "Ask Me Anything" format, with officers answering questions of young drivers, including why an officer will touch the back of the vehicle during a stop, how officers feel when a driver records the interaction, and if the driver has the right to dispute a ticket.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Tony Guerrera said he hopes that driving schools will use these videos as part of their curriculums. "These videos are helpful learning tools for drivers, especially younger drivers, to gain an understanding of what can be expected during a traffic stop," he said.

Bernegger said that with a generation learning more through technology and social media, creating videos felt like the easiest way to get the message out to the most people.

"In a world of TikTok and IG reels, it seemed to be the way the younger generation would learn from best," he said.

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(c)2024 Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.

Visit Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn. at www.journalinquirer.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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