Police traffic stops continue to be a sensitive topic for African Americans. Before the incident in Minnesota with George Floyd, many African-Americans could reflect upon the “classic talk” they received at home about how to safely deal with police encounters.
Courtesy Photo: LeQuan Dixon
The death of Floyd at the hands of police while he was in police custody sparked strings of protests and calls for police reform. The unfortunate event also renewed concerns about how Black civilians should currently handle being stopped by the police. For individuals who strive to reduce the possibility of any misunderstandings, even showing the police requested items such as a driver’s license and registration or proof of insurance can be stressful. Avoiding sudden movements, while keeping their hands in plain view, can greatly influence the outcome of the interaction, when it comes to driving while Black.
Amber Palm, 17, recognized the need for more Black motorists to stay safe during routine traffic stops and to prevent the escalation of more serious or deadly situations. The recent graduate of City Neighbors High School who was raised in Baltimore developed a clever product, which bridges the gap between police safety and motorist interaction.
The tri-fold design looks similar to a wallet, but is measured to fit three critical documents, in preparation for a traffic stop. It’s designed to hold a driver’s identification, registration, and an insurance card in one spot on the dashboard of the car. Thus, no hands are required to pull the items out of a glove compartment, clothes pocket or enclosure, which could be misinterpreted by law enforcement.
“The name of the product is the Dash Pouch. The process is simple. All you have to do is take the anti-slip pad, which has two adhesive sides, and place it in the front of your car— preferably on the dashboard. Place the pouch on top of anti-slip pad, while the vehicle is in use. When it is not in use, remove the pouch and put it away, somewhere out of sight, preferably in the sun visor. The sun visor is more convenient. Even if you forget to place the pouch back on the pad, your hands still remain visible to an officer,” Amber said. “My inspiration behind my invention was mainly the Philando Castile situation, the young man that lost his life while being pulled over, because he had to reach for documentation. Knowing this, I feared for my loved ones, when they leave out the house to drive knowing that a traffic stop could lead to a tragic event. I wanted to do my best to prevent and protect. Also, the device can be used to make the officer and driver feel safe.”
Amber’s company, Palm & Co. was founded in 2018. The teen’s loved ones inspired her to invent something that makes them feel more comfortable while driving, and also helps to protect them. Her product was officially launched in February this year. The ambitious Baltimorean is still trying to get the word out about her invention. To date, she has received over 50 orders from Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and Hawaii.
“My main target is African-American males and females. I believe that the females want it to protect their loved ones and the males want it to protect themselves,” Amber said. “Also, I said African-Americans because I feel like more negatively-driven incidents have been happening to this race more than any other.”
Trina Mc Caskill, 48, is one of Amber’s customers. She says that she has had several run-ins with law enforcement. They did not always turn out in her favor. McCaskill says she fears for her life, and the lives of loved ones, all of the time. The Baltimore native says she has been using the Dash Pouch every day, since she purchased it.
“I recommend the Dash Pouch to every individual that felt the same fear that I did when they get into their vehicle to drive,” McCaskill said. “Since my hands are visible to [the] officer at all times, it puts me and the officer at ease, and could help save [my] life, so I definitely recommend this product.”
The Dash Pouch also appeals to concerned parents like Jaemellah Kemp who have new African-American teenage drivers in the house. The CEO of IT TAKES TWO, INC. routinely works with youth. Kemp celebrates her son’s milestone, but she has also had countless conversations with him about traffic stops, and making it home safely.
“Having his (my son’s) license, registration, and insurance card clearly visible would reduce our anxiety,” Kemp said.
To find out more about The Dash Pouch, visit: www.palmandco.shop