(WXYZ) – The group is called Southeast Michigan Pull Over Prevention, and behind this effort are community members on a mission to curb unnecessary police interactions.
“What we are doing is minimizing or hopefully eliminating unnecessary encounters with the police by doing simple repairs on people’s cars … which can be prohibitive for people,” said Shane Mall, Pull Over Prevention volunteer.
Photos courtesy of Pull Over Prevention
These judgments, which are legal, are called pretextual judgments. This is when an officer stops a driver for a traffic violation or an order while actually looking for evidence of another crime.
Criminal defense attorney William Maze explained to us some of the vehicle issues that can get you stopped.
“You have to make sure both headlights are working at all times, if you have a burnt headlight it’s a legal reason to stop the vehicleâ¦ the turn signals, you make sure both turn signals are workingâ¦ too much air fresheners. is going to be a sign to the officer that the person might be smoking marijuana, but the officer is also going to claim that the air fresheners are obstructing the motorist’s ability to see, âMaze said.
The police tool is controversial – and has led Washtenaw County to discourage its use.
A Large-Scale Analysis of Racial Disparities in Police Checks in the United States by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd
“It’s bad when a police officer randomly arrests people, randomly asks for consent on a fishing trip, and we know that often this happens in socially and economically disadvantaged areas, which are also in black and brown areas, and that leads to racial profiling, âWashtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said.
Washtenaw County District Attorney Eli Savit said they would no longer charge “smuggling crimes” if (1) a civilian was arrested for a minor traffic or ordinance violation, and (2) the officer used this judgment to obtain “consent” to search the civilian or their automobile – without any independent suspicion to believe that the civilian committed a more serious crime.
âThese types of stops are disproportionately affected against blacks and people of color,â Savit said.
Free prevention clinics, say community organizers, were born out of a desire to tackle systematic racism.
âWe started the first one, it was really a success, there was a clear need. We started the next one, even more people came. It was just a hint, OK, that’s something we did. It’s something we’re doing well. It’s clearly a need in this area, “said Jonah Hahn, volunteer for Pull Over Prevention.
From DIY car enthusiasts to mechanics, volunteers come to pop-up clinics ready to help tackle those pesky little repairs – but these events extend far beyond repairs.
âWe also distributed, with the tremendous support of the Washtenaw County Health Department, we distributed a lot of COVID safety supplies, cleaning supplies, masks, both for adults and for childrenâ¦ we also have a dining table where people can come and have a snack, âsaid Natasha Abner, Pull Over Prevention volunteer.
There are additional resources for those passing information about health clinics to nearby pantry hours.
âThe idea is a lot more about giving people the power to try and do some of these fixes on their own and also recognize alternative ways in which we can help each other,â Hahn said.
Organizers say it’s fluid – and that’s how they want it to be.
âThe hope is to involve many different organizations, because there are many ways that these issues overlapâ¦ similar types of people, and their root causes tend to come from the same places. So the hope is that we continue to grow organically, incorporating more groups, more voices, and so that the nature of the event can change as well, âhe said.
Southeast Michigan Pull Over Prevention has two pop-up clinics scheduled for later this month: April 17 and April 24.
Organizers said they hope this effort will expand into other communities – and that they are happy to share more about their process with anyone interested.
For more information or to inquire about volunteering, check out the group’s Facebook page here.