Urbana city staffer debuts traffic-stop video at council meeting

Urbana city staffer debuts traffic-stop video at council meeting

URBANA — Attendees at Monday's packed city council meeting were treated to the premiere of a video created by a city staffer to show new drivers what to expect during a traffic stop.

The video, called "Perspective: Insights of a Traffic Stop," was produced by Preston James, the city's community-relations specialist, after the results of a survey of 60 new drivers ages 14 to 22 showed that they were mainly concerned with how to act during a stop. It features James, Urbana police Officer Joseph Cassidy and high school students from the Kappa Le mentoring program.

There are two traffic-stop scenarios in the video. Both involve a car that runs a stop sign, but there are different responses after the officer pulls it over.

"This video was made specifically for things young people do," James said. "They play music, get distracted and run stop signs."

True to form, the video opens with teens bobbing around a car with the music at a high volume. In the first scenario, Cassidy pulls them over, and they calmly respond to his questions in full. They're written up for running the sign and sent on their way.

"You've got to give respect to earn it," said D'Mitri Turner-Winston, who played the driver.

As Cassidy makes his way to the car, Turner-Winston reaches for something in the front passenger side. Cassidy later asks why that happened, and Turner-Winston tells him his phone fell.

"At every traffic stop, you have no clue what's in the car — it doesn't matter if it's an old lady," Cassidy says in the video. "I don't know if they're getting their insurance, hiding a gun ... so it needs to be addressed."

In the second scenario, the teens respond to Cassidy with laughter and don't pay attention to him. So Cassidy asks them to step out of the car so he can search them and the vehicle for anything suspicious. He noted that being asked to leave the car doesn't guarantee that an arrest will follow.

James said he will start spreading the video around, hopefully getting it shown in schools during driver education. You can watch it via YouTube below:

Some council members suggested creating a series of videos to deal with other situations, like responding to consent searches or pedestrian stops. James said he is looking into making more videos and keeping young people involved with them.