For Black Drivers, Traffic Stops Can Be a Matter of Life or Death. Can the 'Not Reaching' Pouch Make Them Safer?

Screenshot: Notreaching.com

As a black person in America, we’ve all been there.

The anxiety in our stomach as we pull our car off the road, watching police sirens dance in our rear view mirror. The despair of not knowing how the forthcoming chain of events will unravel. The uncertainty of whether or not we’ll live to see another day.

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Those who’ve been tasked to protect and serve often abuse their authority and opt to harm and harass instead. So in an effort to thwart this behavior and protect black lives, Jackie Carter has created what she believes to be a necessary, if not unfortunate, solution: the “Not Reaching” pouch.

The pouch is attached to the driver’s side air vent of your vehicle and makes your car registration, driver’s license and insurance readily accessible. Since its launch three years ago, it’s sold more than 1,000 units, with dozens more given away to drivers in her community.

She created it with the intent to minimize potentially dangerous interactions with police, the type of interactions we discuss ad nauseam when we have “The Talk” with our children once they become old enough to drive.

“I’m more fearful [for my son] in a car here than [when he’s serving] in Afghanistan,” Carter admitted to NBC BLK.

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The inspiration for the pouch came from the 2016 murder of Philando Castile, who was killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop after Castile reached for his license. She was so distraught by the details of the case she told herself, “Someone has got to come up with a solution.”

The Stanford Open Policing Project released a report in March detailing their findings after “collecting and standardizing” over 200 million records of traffic stop and search data from across the country and the results aren’t pretty. According to their study, despite the fact that white drivers “are more likely to be found with illegal items,” black and brown drivers still get pulled over at a noticeably higher rate.

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From the report:

After accounting for age, gender and location, we find that officers ticket, search and arrest Black and Hispanic drivers more often than Whites. For example, when pulled over for speeding, Black drivers are 20 percent more likely to get a ticket (rather than a warning) than White drivers, and Hispanic drivers are 30 percent more likely to be ticketed than White drivers. Black and Hispanic motorists are about twice as likely to be searched compared to White drivers.

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And there’s also the startling stat that since 2005, only 33 law enforcement officers have been convicted of a crime resulting from an on-duty shooting where someone was killed, according to Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University.

So when you combine the two, Driving While Black puts each of us in very real danger.

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So while it’s disheartening that a product like this has to even be created in the first place, the “Not Reaching” pouch has received support by Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile. And if it saves even one life, it’s creation was not in vain.

“The murder of my son started with a police stop,” Castile said.

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About the author

Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.