Racial justice leaders call for an end to deadly traffic stops
Three racial justice leaders have joined forces to call on members of local, state and federal government to address a common problem: minor traffic stops that can escalate and lead to injury or even death to civilians.
Two months after Tire Nichols died after being pulled over by Memphis police officers during a traffic stop, city council members passed new police reform ordinances that will change the way city police conduct stops roads and prohibit unmarked vehicles from being involved in the arrest of people.
Nicholas Turner, director and president of the Vera Institute of Justice, told HuffPost that police departments across the country can change the way they handle traffic stops “that don’t impact public safety.”
Turner, along with Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, and Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released a opinion piece in CNN this week explaining why this change is necessary.
Police carry out around 20 million traffic stops each year, mostly for issues such as a broken taillight, and black drivers are disproportionately stopped, they wrote. In addition to saying individual police departments should make changes, the authors called on the US Department of Transportation, which funds traffic safety programs, to address the issue.
“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg should ask his department to provide safety grants to localities that limit low-level traffic stops and rely on non-police traffic control methods, including Understood civil traffic professionals who can solve traffic safety problems without the intimidation – and possible danger – of a badge and a gun,” they wrote.
“We have seen the article and the department takes this matter very seriously,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson told HuffPost. “We will continue to work to ensure that our road safety programs, including grantmaking, respect both safety and fairness.”
Traffic stops are ineffective in tackling crime and have ultimately caused an increase in investigative checks and harassment of civilians, Turner said.
This was evident in the case of Derrick Kittling, an unarmed black man from Alexandria, Louisiana, who was arrested for window tinting in November. An officer deployed his Taser on Kittling and, after a brief struggle, fatally shot him in the head.
Turner said officers often found no evidence of the violent crimes they claimed to prevent.
A study 2018 in Nashville on traffic stops for immobility violations found that less than a tenth of 1% (0.8 in 1,000) led police to charge someone with possession of a weapon. Another analysis from the Vera Institute of Justice found similar results with low-level stops in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
Besides, washington dc police recovered a firearm in 1% of traffic and pedestrian stops combined in 2020. The year before, there was a recovery rate of 0.6% in all of these stops.
“We know that with this level of stoppages they are profoundly ineffective,” Turner said. “They undermine any effort to ensure public safety. It’s a misdeployment of resources.
The Huffington Gt