WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office will be handing out pouches drivers can use to store driving documents as part of a statewide program, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The initiative for the "Not-Reaching Pouch," created by Valerie Castile and Jacquelyn Carter, is intended to reduce deadly force encounters by law enforcement during traffic stops.

Carter is the president of the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops, a national nonprofit whose mission is to de-escalate tensions and eliminate physical harm among motorists and law enforcement during traffic stops.

Valerie Castile is the mother of Philando Castile who was killed in July 2016 in Falcon Heights by officer Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez was later acquitted of manslaughter charges.

Body camera footage shows Castile telling Yanez that he had a firearm during a traffic stop. The footage shows Yanez telling Castile not to pull the firearm out as Castile repeatedly says he is not. Yanez then fired multiple rounds at Castile, killing him.

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A Facebook Live video by Castile's girlfriend brought the incident worldwide interest.

Carter said she created the pouch after the fatal traffic stop involving Castile. At the time the pouch was created, Carter didn't know Valerie Castile. The pair met in 2018 and Castile now serves on the board of directors of Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.

The Minnesota State Patrol, along with 11 other agencies including the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and St. Cloud Police Department, will take part in the Minnesota program.

"The plan is to distribute pouches to all patrol deputies to hand out if and when they come across permit-to-carry holders, with emphasis on those with questionable interaction skills with law enforcement during law enforcement contacts, usually traffic stops," Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Holien wrote in an email.

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The intent is to store a person’s driver’s license and insurance card in a pouch that is kept in plain sight in the vehicle on an air vent or other visible location, according to the news release.

Sheriff Holien wrote that he decided to take part in the initiative due to his background and training as a National Rifle Association instructor trainer and a Minnesota permit-to-carry trainer.

Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Holien
Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Holien
"I train all instructors what the law is, but also what is best practices to prevent being shot during law enforcement encounters. Our goal is to reinforce practices law enforcement recommends and prefers during an encounter with a valid permit-to-carry holder. This will decrease the likelihood that deadly force will be used due to a permit-to-carry holder's negligence or failure to notify law enforcement of being armed during the encounter," Holien wrote.

Holien said when teaching his permit-to-carry classes, he particularly discusses, in detail, how to deal with law enforcement and what law enforcement can do during encounters.

"This is to hopefully ensure a situation like this does not repeat itself," Holien wrote.

Emily Cutts of the Rochester Post Bulletin contributed to this story.