Minnesota Police Criticized Over 'Not-Reaching Pouch' to Reduce Deadly Traffic Encounters

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is being criticized after introducing a "not-reaching pouch" it hopes will reduce deadly traffic encounters.

The pouches are designed to store a driver's license, registration and insurance card in plain sight on an air vent or other visible location inside the vehicle. The department and other law enforcement agencies—including Minnesota State Patrol and St. Paul Police—will hand out the pouches at community events.

The department said the pouch was created by Valerie Castile, whose son Philando was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop in 2016.

"We are continually looking for ways to reduce deadly force encounters as these instances can be catastrophic for police officers, and community members," Booker Hodges, the department's assistant commissioner, said in a statement.

Hodges continued, "By working together with Ms. Castile, who has tirelessly advocated for these since her son was killed in a deadly force encounter with law enforcement, we are hoping these pouches help in some way reduce these instances, even if it's just one."

But after posting about the pouches on social media, the department was quickly met with backlash.

"Dear Minnesota, this is not the flex you think it is. Cops shouldn't need to see a pouch in order not to shoot," the NAACP wrote in response to the department's announcement.

Journalist Christopher Ingraham tweeted, "Just so we're clear, @MnDPS_DPS is saying that the likelihood of its officers shooting people for complying with their orders is so high that they recommended drivers carry a special device to prevent that from happening."

Brittany Packnett Cunningham, an anti-police violence activist, posted: "America: Where the police will give you a handy pouch instead of stop killing you."

When asked about the backlash, the department's public information officer Scott Wasserman told Newsweek: "Ms. Castile, who lost her son in a deadly force traffic stop shooting, came to DPS with this idea, and we worked side-by-side with Ms. Castile to make it happen. We also worked with her to make changes to the driver's manual last year."

Minnesota Police Criticized Over ‘Not-Reaching Pouch’
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is being criticized after introducing a “not-reaching pouch” it hopes will reduce deadly traffic encounters. Law enforcement agencies—including Minnesota State Patrol and St. Paul Police—will hand out the pouches at community events. Above, a member of the Minnesota State Patrol stands guard on June 10, 2020, in St. Paul. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Castile told WCCO that she heard about the 'not-reaching" device in 2018 after it was created by a woman in Virginia.

She told the local CBS affiliate that they don't want "another Philando Castile anywhere in this country."

Philando Castile's death sparked nationwide protests over police brutality. The 32-year-old was fatally shot by an officer in his car while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were sitting in the vehicle.

"Safety. That is our ultimate goal. To educate kids and create different things where they will be safe and the police will be safe. It's all about safety on both ends," Valerie Castile said. "At the end of the day everybody wants to go home."