Teen drivers learn how to 'Survive the Stop'

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On Saturday, Columbus teens sat in a room at the Mansion Day School listening intently to Sgt. Kevin Dillard.

“I want to go home safe and I'm sure they do to,” said Dillard, a trooper for the Ohio State Highway Patrol Circleville Post.

Dillard was on a panel of law enforcement teaching young drivers and soon-to-be drivers how to interact with officers when pulled over.

“The community needs to have a better understanding of its rights, its roles and responsibilities in regards to engaging law enforcement,” said Kendall Lee, a partner with Significance, LLC, the non-profit hosting the event.

The workshop was titled “Survive the Stop.” It allowed teens and adults to have an open dialogue about relationships with law enforcement and how to overcome “fear,” Lee said. “…A general fear and a lack of understanding of why is this occurring or what can we do to prevent it from ever occurring.”

Role playing was also a part of the workshop. Teens had the chance to play both officer and driver in different scenarios.

“Respect should go both ways,” Dillard said. “I think the officer, as they walk up to the car, they should respect the driver, as well as the driver should respect the officer.”

Dillard also taught drivers what not to do in the midst of a traffic stop and how to respond to the officer if the driver is carrying a weapon.

“They should have a concealed carry permit first off. If they do have a concealed carry permit and they have a concealed weapon, keep their hands where they can see, where the officer can see them,” Dillard said. “Don't move around the vehicle when you are being stopped and don't become aggressive with the officer.”

Julien Turner is a recent high school graduate. He participated in a role play scenario where an officer approached several teens in a parking lot. One of the students took off running.

“I know running now is really bad and they have precautions and rules for people who do run,” Turner said. “This conversation will hopefully deescalate everything. It's important to have this with minorities and the cops.”

Jesse Prewitt is a 15-year-old 10th grader who also participated.

“I'm getting ready to start learning how to drive so I'm trying to learn, just in case I do get pulled over I know what to do,” Prewitt said.

Significance, LLC, plans to have similar workshops across Central Ohio. To find out when and where those events will be held, you can visit their website at YourSignificance.com.