CHARLOTTE, N.C. - More than 100,000 students across North Carolina will take Driver's Ed this upcoming school year. This year's course will tackle more than parallel parking and three point turns.
"There's a good chance that each one of them during the course of their life will get stopped by the police," said Quentin Williams. Williams is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor.
He is now tasked with educating new drivers on the do's and dont's of traffic stops with his organization, Dedication to the Community. Williams says young drivers make mistakes, especially when interacting with the police.
"What I did was everything wrong," he said recalling a traffic stop from when he was 16. "After I pulled over, I got out of my car and ran back to the police officer and I did it to apologize because I knew I was wrong," he said.
Williams says his traffic stop could've ended badly. However, he hopes to ensure new drivers are better prepared for the rules of the road.
A bill requiring students to learn how to act on traffic stops passed the General Assembly with bi-partisan support and will go into effect January 1.
Williams and Carl Logan, a Driver's Ed Consultant for the Department of Instruction, are working to develop the curriculum.
"It's not all about just starting your car, backing it up," said Logan. "We feel like we will be able to teach the students with a single message."
The two men demonstrated what to do if stopped by police, much of their advice will be in classrooms next school year.
"Always have your hands visible," Williams said. "Making sure the windows are down, you turn off the engine and you take the keys and you put the keys on the dash board," he explained.
"With every move you make, you ask permission," Williams instructed. "At every step of the way, you forecast what you were going to do,. You acknowledge what you were going to do. You treated them with respect. Yes officer. No officer," he stressed.
Both men say being respectful and complying with an officer requests will work most of the time, but doesn't guarantee the officer will behave professionally.
Logan, says he was pulled from his car by gunpoint, while wearing a suit and tie and CMS name badge. He says officers accused him of being a drug dealer.
"I knew one wrong move, I would be shot, it could turn out bad," Logan said. "It took a lot of restraint from me because I was very angry."
Williams says they want students to rely on training if faced with an unprofessional officer.
"The battleground is never right here, it can not be because a person in the community will always loss this battle,' Williams asserted. "So, if police officer is not being a professional, then you have to step it up even to another level."
Williams says he encourages drivers to report unprofessional behavior immediately after the traffic stop to local authorities.
State and local police agencies are expected to be in the classroom and active participants in this new Driver's Ed protocol.
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