Philadelphia Mayor Signs Driver Equality Bill Intended To Decrease Dangerous Interactions Between Cops And Drivers
After signing the Driver Equality Bill, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney hopes to curtail negative interactions between officers and drivers.
November 02, 2021 at 4:51 pm
Philadelphia will become the first U.S. city to ban police from conducting traffic stops for minor violations, CNN reports. This comes a week after Mayor Jim Kenney signed the city council-approved Driving Equality Bill. The purpose of the bill is to create less dangerous interactions between civilians and policemen.
With a vote of 14-2, the legislation will now categorize traffic violations as "primary" and "secondary." The difference between the two tiers is "secondary" will not be a cause for a traffic stop. Using the hashtag #DrivingEquality, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas tweeted, "Traffic stops are traumatic for drivers and scary for police officers. Limiting them makes everyone safer and communities stronger."
Traffic stops have been encouraged by some police departments in order to protect the public from drivers carrying illegal drugs or weapons. "Low level" offenses include illuminated license plates, tinted windows and other hindrances that don't require interaction between police and citizens.
The approved bill will also minimize the number of disproportionate stops involving drivers of color. Studies illustrate that people of color, especially Black drivers, are at a higher risk of being stopped during routine traffic stops.
Over 20 million people are stopped every year during traffic routines, according to Nature Human Behaviour. Kelsey Shoub, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, co-authored a book called Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race, and according to their research, based in North Carolina, Black Americans drive 16% less but are 115% more likely than their white counterparts to be searched during traffic stops. However, white Americans had a higher propensity of carrying contraband in their vehicles.
Driving Equality also comes in the aftermath of the late Daunte Wright being fatally shot during a traffic stop, as Blavity previously reported. Back in April, Wright, 20, was driving with expired car registration tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, ABC News reports. After being pulled over, officers attempted to detain Wright for an outstanding warrant. He then allegedly fled from officers and was shot at close range by police.
The Philadelphia Police Department will receive training and education for 120 days before the bill is implemented, USA Today reports.
"I am humbled by every person who told my office of the humiliation and trauma experienced in some of these traffic stops," Thomas said, according to CNN. "To many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage. We pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police."