Driving Equity Bills Bans Low-Level Traffic Stops in Philadelphia: Philadelphia becomes the first major city to ban police from stopping motorists for minor violations which disproportionately affects people of color.

In a vote of 14-2, Philadelphia city counsel made the majority decision to ban police from making traffic stops for minor violations.

The bill, passed on Oct. 14, was implemented to assist in eliminating racial inequalities among Philadelphia drivers by preventing the chance of bias in these unnecessary stops.

A previous study done in Philadelphia showed that black and latino drivers were 3.4 times more likely to be pulled over for the same infractions as their white counterparts. 

The offenses that are being discussed are ones that normally lead to otherwise unprompted vehicle searches, hence the decision to take action against the stops. Experts say “these “pretextual” stops are used disproportionately against Black and Latino drivers, resulting in excessive fees and distrust in police,” 6 abc shared. 

The type of stops being banned are categorized as secondary violations. This includes stops for bumper issues, driving with a minor obstruction or single headlight, driving with a singular broken tail light, driving without a full visible inspection or registration sticker and driving without vehicle registration within 60 days of the incident, among a few others. 

People found committing the formerly mentioned vehicle violations will still face repercussions despite the new bill. The forms of repercussion are still being discussed, but the idea of using traffic cameras to mail out citations is being considered. 

The purpose of removing the traffic stops is not to allow people to “get away” with  committing the infractions; hence the efforts being made to still provide warnings or citations for the acts. 

This bill is the first municipal legislature of its kind, and the law was put together by Philadelphia mayor, Jim Kenney and Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Danielle Outlaw. 

“This is not stopping police officers from making legitimate public safety stops. If I have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause you’re involved in criminal activity, I can make the stop,” said Francis Healy, special advisor to Commissioner Outlaw.

These changes will only be implemented in the city of Philadelphia and will not be applied or make any changes to Pennsylvania state motor vehicle code. 

In the past year, 94 percent of drivers in cases where vehicles were searched in Philadelphia were people of color.

Supporters of the new bill not only hope that the bills introduction will reduce racial profiling, but supporters also hope the implementation will free police officers to focus on more serious offenses, maximizing police resources. 

The bill was first introduced last October by Philadelphia Counsilmember Isaiah Thomas, who spoke about several instances where he experiences the racial profiling by police officers firsthand.

“I’m confident that this bill will be able to address some of the equality issues that we’ve faced in the city of Philadelphia. I think it will put us in a position where hopefully we’ll see significantly less stops as it relates to these types of traffic violations,” said Thomas. 

Sources: Fox News, NPR, Whyy (PBS), 6 abc

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