Liberals Are Super Excited For Police To No Longer Make Traffic Stops

Seriously, what could possibly go wrong if police no longer make traffic stops? USA Today thinks they’re making a point

What would happen if cops didn’t make certain traffic stops? This North Carolina city offers a case study

Before dawn one morning in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a Black woman in her late 60s was pulled over by a police officer. The officer said she’d run a stop sign.

She denied the charge. She was just trying to get to her Bible studies class, she told him. He ran her license and concluded the stop with a warning. The incident disturbed her nevertheless. While he did not ticket her, the officer questioned her reason for being out that morning – it was too early for Bible study groups, he said sarcastically.

This did not sit well with her Bible study group that day in 2013, especially one of its newer attendees, whose husband was the new Fayetteville police chief. She relayed the incident.

Harold Medlock was exasperated. Apparently one of his officers had been randomly stopping people in their neighborhoods.

She blew the stop sign and should have gotten a ticket, not a warning. Don’t want to get pulled? Don’t blow a stop sign. Just trying to get to her Bible studies class is not an excuse.

It was precisely the kind of policing he was there to change. “It never occurred to me that I would have a cop out there doing everything wrong, from the way you treat somebody to the basic protocols and procedures for traffic stop,” he said.

Medlock had arrived in Fayetteville already convinced that the police department’s focus regarding motor vehicles should be on speeding, stop sign/light violations, DWI and reckless driving – moving violations of immediate concern to public safety.

She blew a stop sign. Why was the new Chief upset? It was exactly the type of moving violation that is of immediate concern to public safety.

Stopping drivers for non-moving violations such as equipment failures or expired registration ought to be minimized or avoided altogether, he told his department.

Except, they encoded in law, and police are supposed to uphold the law. Take tail-lights: they give clues to people driving behind them, right? If one is broken, that clue could be late in being seen. That’s why the federal government passed a law requiring the 3rd tail light and that it be higher up in the driver’s viewing field. Expired registration? Perhaps this person shouldn’t be driving that car. Perhaps the brakes failed inspection, meaning it is a danger to other people.

My friend was stopped for a dead tail light. The cop walked up, said, your taillight is out, need to get that fixed. Then “have a good day.” Most people don’t know until someone tells them. Cops would rather not have to do this, because some people have hissy fits (or worse), but, it’s necessary to increase safety on the road, especially with more and more cars. And more and more people paying less attention to the road and more to their phones. I don’t remember complaints from the media about officers pulling people over for using their phones after laws in some places were passed banning the usage in cars.

Numerous studies have shown that Black and Hispanic drivers are disproportionately targeted for traffic stops, and once stopped are more likely to have their cars searched during the stop.

Police and activists agree that these stops are fraught with danger for both citizens and police. As a cop, Medlock knew there was a complicated way to fix this, and a simple one. He went with the simple one: get cops out of the habit of pulling over people unless they needed to do so to protect the safety of others on the road.

So, they see an expired tag and do nothing? How soon till they aren’t supposed to pull people over for other infractions?

In North Carolina, police make about a million traffic stops a year. Half of those, according to Frank Baumgartner, political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are not safety-related stops.

He thinks stopping a driver because of a broken taillight or equipment violation does little for safety. “And it comes with a cost in terms of public trust and confidence in the police.”

In the tech age, it should be simple, as a cop told me: pull them over, tell them the problem, tell them to fix it, send a picture of it being fixed. But, notice, they aren’t really giving anything other than expired tags and taillights. Take those two out, and you still have cops pulling people over for moving violations. And people going wacky instead of just taking the ticket.

The rest is just about trying to paint police as Bad Guys. They might be pulling people over for reasons, because they know something funny is going on.

In Fayetteville from 2013 to 2016, the effects of Medlock’s enforcement directions were easily measurable: stops for non-moving violations went way down; investigative stops went to zero all four years; and stops for speeding increased dramatically.

Meanwhile, focused traffic enforcement for moving violations such as speed or stop/red light violations skyrocketed from 13,000 a year to 46,000 a year in four years.

I wouldn’t mind that, as people blowing stop signs makes me nuts. It’s so dangerous. Of course, other crime has gone way up in Fayetteville, and lots of those other stops could have put a stop to them.

At the end of the day, though, if people don’t like the stops they should ask the city, counties, and states to take those violations off the books.

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One Response to “Liberals Are Super Excited For Police To No Longer Make Traffic Stops”

  1. Dana says:

    Just before I moved away from the Keystone State, the Department of Motor Vehicles stopped issuing stickers for license plate reregistration. Instead, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was installing scanners in police cars which read every license plate which came in visual range of the police car, checked it with the state database, and would alert the officer driving the vehicle that hey, that green Hyundai has expired or suspended tags. Given that Pennsylvania state law required insurance companies to notify the DMV if insurance lapses, and DMV then suspends your plates for ninety days, even if you get reinsured the very next day, this is to provide ‘incentive’ to get your insurance right, and to get uninsured vehicles off the road.

    So, look for more of these stops in Pennsylvania . . . unless Governor Wolf decides that stopping a vehicle for expired or suspended tags shouldn’t happen anymore.

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