FAIRFAX, Va. - In the wake of the police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, police departments in Northern Virginia are now stepping up efforts to deescalate police stops with concealed carry gun owners before they even begin.
The case is under investigation, but Castile's girlfriend said during a traffic stop last week that he was following officer's request for identification when he brushed up against his concealed firearm near his back pocket. But after telling the officer he had a legally permitted gun, Castile was shot at least times and was killed.
Virginia is a concealed carry state and police are reaching out with information aimed at avoiding another similar outcome.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Department posted on its Facebook page with a list of five tips for concealed carry gun owners in traffic stops.
Meanwhile, Fairfax County police have produced a YouTube video showing a traffic stop from an officer’s perspective.
In Virginia, concealed carry gun owners are not required to tell a police officer that they have a gun. But police said sharing that information with an officer at the start of a traffic stop is a courtesy they would like concealed carry owners to extend.
"It is not required by law to let an officer know that you have a concealed carry or that you are actually armed,” said Fairfax County Police Officer Megan Hawkins. “It is a courtesy thing, letting us know that you do have a firearm on you or in your vehicle [and] letting us know where it is as well.”
In the past year, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office had 3,700 applications for concealed carry permits, which were up significantly from the year before.
Officials told FOX 5 they teach officers at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy the proper way to handle concealed carry traffic stops in role playing scenarios, but the goal in this outreach is that the public will be educated as well.