Philadelphia will ban “minor” traffic stops in interest of “equity”, effectively protecting criminals

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PHILADELPHIA, PA- The stupidity of Democrats continues.

In Philadelphia, a bill is moving forward that would ban police enforcement of certain motor vehicle stops which some claim “disproportionately affect black drivers,” according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

Among violations which would no longer be enforceable by Philly police are driving with broken headlights, loud mufflers or operating an unregistered car.

The latter is interesting in that it is well known in police circles that if a car is unregistered, it is likely also uninsured, which increases the risk of those who legally register and ensure their vehicles should they get into an accident.

According to an analysis by the Defender Association of Philadelphia, they analyzed 309,000 traffic stops using data collected between Oct 2018 through Sept 2019.

According to that analysis, black drivers accounted for 72% of the stops, with an arrest rate of around 1%. Fifteen percent of the stops were white drivers with an arrest rate of only 2/100ths less than blacks with far fewer stops, .98%.

In the case of tickets issued relative to the stops, Black drivers made up 9% of tickets issued while whites received 14% of the fines issued. These statistics appeared to have been spun in order to make it appear that the reason whites received more tickets for less stops was they were stopped for “more legitimate purposes”.

“When they stopped white drivers, they were for more legitimate purposes and they actually did things that advance those public safety measures,” former Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey said in testimony at a Committee on Public Safety hearing of the City Council.

Some, including the bill’s sponsor Isiah Thomas claimed he had been stopped for “minor infractions” and said it was because of a pattern of racial profiling.

Some addressed traffic stops that turned deadly, although none in Philadelphia.

For example one case cited was that of Sandra Bland, who committed suicide while in police custody after originally being stopped in Texas for failing to signal a lane change.

The Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota was addressed, a man who was shot after being stopped for driving with a broken taillight. Another man, Walter Scott was shot in by a South Carolina officer after being stopped for a broken taillight.

No incidents appeared to have been raised where routine traffic stops resulted in arrests of high-profile suspects, such as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber; Ted Bundy, a serial killer responsible for the deaths of a number of co-eds in Florida; the Hillside Strangler, a serial killer in California; and David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam” who committed a number of murders in New York City in the 1970s.

In the case of Philadelphia, Francis Healy, special advisor to Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw noted the department has been working to address the “disparities” in the data presented since last summer.

Outlaw has decided she will support what the bill is trying to do, while Healy claims passage of the bill won’t have a negative impact on the department’s ability to stop drivers for committing crimes.

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

This is the second go-around for Thomas introducing the bill which stalled the last time after the Law Department raised concerns. He said the current version of the bill wouldn’t have an affect on stops for violations such as speeding, running stop signs and tinted windows.

In this version, the Defender Association became involved to draft the new version of the bill.

Healy noted that aside from changing the written policy, the department also wants to implement a related training program.

In another bill proposed out of committee, it would require police officers to record and maintain certain police stop data which would help determine how effective the interactions are in reducing crime. It is expected the bills could be brought to a vote by the council by the end of the month.

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In case you missed it, Law Enforcement Today published an article about new restrictions proposed by the a “task force” in Connecticut, where we also addressed a number of “routine” traffic stops that resulted in high-profile arrests. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

The following article contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

HARTFORD, CT- We knew it would come to something as ridiculous as this. Connecticut’s “Police Transparency & Accountability Task Force” has come out with some recommendations, and as expected, they are as absurd as they are short-sighted.

According to WTIC-1080, the task force approved recommendations on Tuesday which would prohibit police officers from making traffic stops among a host of so-called “minor” traffic violations. Among violations for which police would no longer be able to effect traffic stops include defective headlights, displaying license plates in rear windows and other “minor” violations.

The recommendations will be submitted to state legislators for consideration with the task force claiming that data shows black and Hispanic motorists are stopped disproportionately for vehicle equipment and registration violations in comparison to white motorists.

Some members of the task force claim preventing police from having the ability to stop drivers for so-called “secondary” violations would diminish the so-called disproportionate stops of minorities and in turn reduce alleged confrontations between police and motorists.

According to one member, a retired New Haven police officer named Shafiq Abdussabur, he believes stops for equipment violations are a problem.

“It’s those types of stops that seem to be the stops that go bad, that go off into something greater, that creates a bigger issue, which results in a lawsuit or an officer being fired or terminated,” he said.

Not sure what the difference between “fired” and “terminated” is, but we digress.

The panel suggests that secondary violations include things such as having a single headlight, taillight or an inoperative brake light. Accident data might suggest that failure to have brake lights is something that is causative to a number of rear-end collisions.

Other violations, such as placing a license plate in the back window (commonly done by people who steal license plates for the purposes of committing other crimes, by the way), common in cities, would be a secondary violation if all the letters and numbers are clearly visible.

Other violations that would be prohibited from traffic stops include violations of window tinting regulations or having ornaments or other objects that block a driver’s view from the roadway.

Dark tinted windows pose a danger not only to other drivers, but also to police officers. For example, the Orange County Register reported that there are a number of issues with dark tinted windows, in particular when it is either dark or raining.

“There are a lot of safety factors involving tinted windows,” a California Highway Patrol Officer Jose Barrios said. “If it’s dark or raining, you can definitely take out a pedestrian or a cyclist.”

A California attorney also warned those with tinted windows could find themselves liable in the event of an accident.

“If you are in an auto accident that you believe was caused by the other driver’s tinted windows, be sure to take pictures of the car before the evidence is removed or destroyed,” said Attorney Barry Goldberg.

“Whether the windows were tinted could become an important part of the theory of liability that your experienced personal injury attorney uses to help you recover financial damages”

Dark tinted windows also pose a threat to police officers, who when they do make a “permitted” traffic stop cannot see what they are facing inside the car, such as how many occupants, if they are brandishing weapons, etc. This is a clear officer safety issue. 

The task force recommendations would also extend from 30 to 60 days the time for which failing to renew a registration is considered a secondary violation; several other minor violations not named in the WTIC story would also fall to secondary infractions.

The recommendations were passed unanimously, however Milford (CT) Police Chief Keith Mello, a member of the panel said he was concerned about reducing the frequency of traffic stops because on occasion, they lead to the solving of other crimes. More on that shortly. Still, Mello signed off on the proposals.

Mello noted that when he served as a patrol officer, he tried to stop a car because the headlights were out. The driver fled and someone threw a gun out of the car. When the car was ultimately stopped after getting in several crashes during the pursuit, police found the occupants had kidnapped and repeatedly raped a woman.

“Any time you reduce contact between the police and the public, there will be an impact in terms of crimes that are solved, crimes that are prevented. What that impact is is hard to measure,” Mello said.

Mello is correct. A number of significant crimes have been solved by what were initially “minor” traffic stops.

Ted Bundy, one of the most prolific serial killers in American history was caught in Pensacola, Florida based on a traffic stop. He was convicted in the murders of several Florida State University coeds and was executed in 1989.

David Berkowicz, so-called “Son of Sam” terrorized New York City in the 1970s. He killed six young men and women and wounded nine others during his murderous spree. He was caught based on a parking ticket.

Wayne Williams killed as many as 30 young black children and teenagers in the Atlanta, Georgia area in 1979 and 1980. As a result of a traffic stop for stopping on a bridge (a minor violation), Williams was tied into the murders, was arrested, tried and was imprisoned.

On April 19, 1995, a terrorist blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people including dozens of children and maimed hundreds of others.

How was that terrorist, Timothy McVeigh caught? Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer Charles Hanger saw McVeigh driving down I-35 near Pawnee, Oklahoma. His violation? He had no license plate on his car.

Hanger stopped McVeigh, developed probable cause to search the vehicle and found a loaded firearm. Further investigation tied McVeigh to the bombing. He was convicted by a federal jury in 1997 and sentenced to death, then was executed on June 11, 2001.

Minor traffic violations, the type the Connecticut Police Transparency & Accountability Task Force wants to prohibit…have led to serious, significant crimes being solved. And this task force wants to take that tool out of police officer’s tool belts out of some kind of political correctness based on emotion, not on fact.

Emotion? Look no further than task force chairman Daryl McGraw, a (of course) community activist and founder of a criminal justice consulting organization. McGraw noted two of his children are newly licensed drivers and he is concerned about what would happen if they were stopped by police.

“For minority parents, it’s a scary time,” McGraw said. “As I tell my son…if you get pulled over these are the procedures because it might be his first time getting pulled over. He may appear nervous. That nervousness may be reflected as something else, like he has something to hide, and the wrong officer at the wrong time—that could create havoc.

“I just want to make sure that he gets home safe,” he said.

McGraw’s concerns don’t match up with statistics, despite what groups such as Black Lives Matter say.

According to the Washington Post, 23 “unarmed” black suspects were fatally shot by police in 2018, while fewer…12…were shot in 2019. Statistics are not yet available for 2020. And while some of those were “unarmed” at the time they were shot; some were still dangerous…not to discount those who were clearly unarmed and therefore shouldn’t have posed a threat.

The point is McGraw’s concerns don’t translate to reality. So in the case of Connecticut, they’re throwing the baby out with the bath water for a problem that is nonexistent. Unfortunately, that is how opportunists roll.

The task force on Tuesday also received recommendations from a subcommittee on ways to increase the number of minorities and women on police departments. The proposals were not voted on.

Those recommendations include easing hiring criteria that disproportionately affect women and minorities, requiring collection from police departments statewide on the hiring and promotion of women and minorities, and openly addressing concerns about sexism in law enforcement when recruiting women.

Again, looking for a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Hopefully, the state legislature throws the traffic enforcement recommendations in the trash heap where they belong. They are short-sighted and will diminish public safety, not improve it.

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Earlier this year, we wrote about a college professor who was suggesting police be prohibited from engaging in ANY traffic enforcement. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

The following editorial is written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

The latest “brilliant” idea to come out of the anti-police bias sweeping across the country is a push to prohibit police from enforcing traffic violations. Some geniuses have proposed having “independent traffic agencies”, i.e. more taxpayer-funded government employees take on those duties separate from police officers.

One such proposal has been put forth by a University of Arkansas law professor, Jordan Blair Woods, who conducted a study, “Traffic Without Police, which will be published in the Stanford Law Review.

“Many traffic stops that escalate into violence are often related to the ways in which officers invoke their authority during traffic stops that go beyond just asking for a driver’s license or registration.

Things like ordering people out of the car, telling someone they’re under arrest, putting their hands inside of the vehicle,” he said.

I honestly don’t even know where to start with such a stupid statement. Officers don’t just “willy-nilly” engage in any of the above.

First of all, officers don’t “order people out of the car” without having a reason to do so, typically involving officer safety. People are not typically asked to get out of their car without a specific, articulable reason for doing so.

Secondly, telling someone they’re under arrest usually follows one of three scenarios.

Either they committed a violation, for example reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor and which state law in their particular jurisdiction permits a custodial arrest. Or there is an active arrest warrant being held for either the driver or one of the passengers.

Finally, they just left Joe’s Bar and Grill and were weaving their way down the highway and when they roll down the window it smells like they spilled a bottle of gin inside the car. 

Finally, putting hands inside a vehicle? Unless it’s a situation where perhaps an officer is trying to remove the car keys for a suspected drunk driver, reaching inside a vehicle goes against all manner of officer safety training which police receive.

Putting oneself in the position of having part of your body inside a vehicle is counter-intuitive to protecting yourself. I seriously doubt this is a common occurrence, and is clearly the overwhelming exception to the rule.

So what does Woods propose? Independent “traffic agencies” separate from police departments. Now, he doesn’t say if these “traffic monitors” would be armed, but our guess is probably not.

Maybe a water pistol, or high-capacity Super Soaker? What one can picture is a bunch of Paul Blart Mall Cops who couldn’t pass the police exam or agility test signing up to be traffic monitors. 

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Paul Blart, Mall Cop could be a “traffic monitor” YouTube screenshot

“Rather than have police be the ones, in particular armed police officers, that are the ones who enforce these types of laws, we could move in the direction of having a different civil agency that is separate from the police conduct this type of work.

The goal is we would then see fewer traffic stops devolving into unnecessary violence against communities of color,” Woods said.

I can’t even address that last statement it’s so ignorant. But suffice it to say, Woods is clueless. For more on that, read on.

He says the “traffic agencies” would help with simple stops like driving with a headlight out or rolling through a stop sign (an indicator of possible intoxication, by the way), however he said police would still be called for serious traffic stops like a DUI or a stolen vehicle.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Traffic monitors issuing tickets for speeding scooters-YouTube screenshot

So, in general, a police officer doesn’t know he’s dealing with a DUI until after he/she stops the car.

How does Woods propose police dealing with “serious” traffic stops since in order to obtain probable cause that someone was intoxicated, one of the elements is proving operation, in addition to observing matters such as erratic driving, etc.

The “traffic stop” would need to be initiated by the “traffic monitors” and if past experience is any guide, a good number of attempted DWI stops can turn into pursuits. And you can pretty much guarantee that if police are taken out of the equation, a lot of drunk drivers are going to just keep going on their merry way.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Traffic monitor cruiser-YouTube screenshot

Then there’s the issue of stolen vehicles. In most jurisdictions, stopping a stolen car is handled via a “felony stop.” That is IF an officer knows they are dealing with a stolen car.  Many times, an officer finds out a car is stolen only after effecting a stop.

A number of people who steal cars, especially recently have done so via carjacking, which more times than not involves taking a vehicle at gunpoint or under threat of harm. What Woods’ proposal is going to lead to is a lot of “traffic monitors” getting themselves killed.

Woods proposes prohibiting police from conducting “routine” traffic stops for what he calls “minor” violations,” and mentions speeding as one of those “minor violations,” as well as running a red light.

So, let’s look at the “minor” violation of speeding. In 2019, speeding was a factor in over a quarter—26% of motor vehicle crash deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That statistic has remained steady over the past 10 years.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Speeding Head On Crash-YouTube screenshot

According to a San Diego law firm, Pines Salomon, so-called “minor” violations included in the top 25 most common causes of car accidents included, aside from speeding, running red lights, running stop signs, defective equipment, unsafe lane changes, improper turns, and tailgating. So while these may be “minor” to Woods, they are not minor when it comes to crash statistics.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
“Minor” red light runner causes crash-YouTube screenshot

Woods in fact also seems to support decriminalizing or reducing the criminal consequences of DUI. In fact, after distracted driving (which Woods would also support removing from police enforcement I’m sure) drunk driving is the second-leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States, according to the Huffington Post.

The mere fact Woods seems to support decriminalizing drunk driving dismisses any modicum of seriousness in his paper.

 

According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), EVERY day in the United States around 28 people die in drunk-driving crashes—one person every 52 minutes.

In 2019, DUI deaths reached the lowest percentage since 1982, however 10,142 people still lost their lives in drunk driving crashes. Yup, “minor” traffic offense.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
“Minor” drunk driving crash that killed 5-year-old in Houston-YouTube screenshot

As far as dealing with aggressive or hostile drivers, Woods notes that “basic training of traffic monitors would include violence prevention, verbal de-escalation tactics and self-defense strategies.”

Also, they would receive “initial and continuous training in implicit bias and procedural justice. Ah yes, critical race theory for traffic monitors. Maybe they’ll carry lollipops and give out Amazon gift cards to aggressive or hostile drivers to “de-escalate.”

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Oh, he also says traffic monitors could be fitted with body-worn cameras “to help diffuse traffic stops from escalating into violence against traffic monitors.” Yes, because that has served as a deterrent to people assaulting police officers, right? Like this officer in New Mexico:

 

So, lets’ climb through the history books to a few cases where traffic stops by trained police officers took criminals off the street, thanks to Police Magazine.

In 1983, California Highway Patrol officers saw a Jeep driven by Randy Kraft driving erratically on Interstate 5. Kraft was pulled over in Mission Viejo in Orange County.

Kraft was taken into custody, and while conducting an inventory search of his car, they found the dead body of a young Marine, Terry Gambrel.

Long story short Kraft was later determined to be the “Southern California Strangler,” who drugged his victims, strangled them and then dumped them on the highway as he sped down the road. He was convicted of 16 murders, however, may have been responsible for up to 67.

Ted Bundy is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. Bundy was apprehended several times during traffic stops, but he was a prolific jail breaker as well. Finally he was caught in Pensacola, Florida based on a traffic stop.

Bundy finally stayed in custody and he was convicted of the murders of several Florida State University coeds. He was electrocuted in 1989.

David Berkowicz, the so-called “Son of Sam” terrorized New York City in the 1970’s. He was responsible for killing six young men and women, as well as wounding nine others during his murderous spree.

Berkowicz ended up being caught based on a parking ticket, having had it issued by a NYPD officer in the area of the murder of Stacy Moskowitz.

In 1979 and 1980, as many as 30 young black children and teenagers were killed by a serial killer or killers in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Most in the community believed the killings to be the work of the Ku Klux Klan or another white supremacist group, however detectives working the case didn’t buy the theory.

Wayne Williams was stopped for stopping on a bridge after officers had staked it out due to several bodies being found in the river below. A search of Williams’ car found nothing; however police now had a suspect.

Two days later another young man, Nathaniel Carter, 27 was pulled out of the river downstream from the bridge. The citation for the bridge violation is what finally led investigators to Williams.

Over the course of two months in 1993, a so-called “Shotgun Stalker” terrorized the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. by a man who drove around the areas shooting pedestrians with a shotgun.

In April of that year, a Metro police officer, Kenneth Steward saw a car run through two red lights. Stewart, who was off duty at the time chased the vehicle and ended up capturing James E. Swann Jr.

Inside his car, police found a recently fired shotgun. He was arrested and indicted on four counts of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a Washington area mental hospital.

Perhaps the most infamous person who was arrested due to a traffic violation is Timothy McVeigh, who set off a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, including dozens of children, and which maimed hundreds of others.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Oklahoma City Bomber, Timothy McVeigh was caught during routine traffic stop-YouTube screenshot

How was McVeigh caught? Charles Hanger, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer spotted McVeigh operating a Mercury Marquis driving down I-35 near Pawnee, Oklahoma, operating without a license plate on his car.

Hanger initiated a traffic stop, gathered probable cause in order to search the vehicle, and found a loaded firearm inside.

McVeigh was arrested, and just days later, he was taken into custody by the FBI for bombing the Murrah building. He was convicted in 1997 by a federal jury, and sentenced to death. He died of lethal injection on June 11, 2001.

Philadelphia will ban "minor" traffic stops in interest of "equity", effectively protecting criminals
Baylee Almon, victim of Murrah Building bombing, Oklahoma City-YouTube screenshot

The above are but a few of the more significant cases where traffic stops—those evil stops that police apparently use only for the purposes of profiling minorities and as a pretext to harass people—ended up solving some egregious crimes.

There are thousands of other less prolific cases where criminals were taken off the streets for committing “minor” traffic violations.

This proposal touted by Woods is anti-police, anti-law enforcement, and anti-common sense on steroids. The abject stupidity of the woke police-hating mob is mind-boggling.

They are willing to sacrifice the safety of people driving on roads and highways throughout the country because they hate the police, through some feel-good, namby-pamby “reform” such as removing traffic enforcement authority from the police.

And what will police be left to do? Clean up the carnage, notify loved ones that their family isn’t coming home, and deal with the post-traumatic stress of the increased number of mangled bodies they deal with on a regular basis. But liberals like Wood can pat themselves on the back for their “wokeness.”

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