Pittsburgh follows Philly in making an attempt to ban small visitors stops

Earlier this year, Philly passed a so-called driver equality law that banned police from dragging people for minor offenses that could disproportionately affect black residents and lead to violence.

Now the Pittsburgh City Council is considering a measure of its own. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported that Pittsburgh City Councilor Ricky Burgess had proposed a law that would also prohibit its police officers from stopping people for minor violations, creating more opportunities for potentially volatile interactions with the police.

Both measures represent a step-by-step approach to police reform after more far-reaching measures like the proposed George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed away in Congress. In particular, the Philadelphia Act and the Pittsbugh Proposal target traffic stops as they disproportionately affect black residents in both cities.

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From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

Burgess said the legislation aims to reduce the number of traffic stops, which he believes are “more common in African American communities.”

Pittsburgh Police Department data shows that officers carried out 4,650 traffic checks on black drivers in 2020, compared with 4,513 with white drivers and 120 with Hispanic or Latin American drivers.

“We know these stops run the risk of escalating in black communities,” said Burgess. “That can have catastrophic consequences for both the civil servant and the resident.”

In case it wasn’t clear, in Pittsburgh – a city with less than a quarter of the black population – police officers overtake more black drivers than any other group. Philly, with a much larger black population, still had similar inequality.

The story goes on

From the USA today:

The legislation was driven in part by an investigation of 309,000 traffic controls using police data collected between October 2018 and September 2019. Former chief defender Keir Bradford-Gray said 72% of the stops were for black drivers; less than half of the city’s drivers are black.

The legislation will help take the “targets off the backs of black people,” said Bradford-Gray.

Pittsburgh has just elected its first black mayor, Ed Gainey, from the same district that Burgess, the sponsor of the Driving Capital Act, represents on the city council. Hopefully, as mayor, he won’t be stopped for a broken taillight.

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