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The Philadelphia Police Department will no longer stop drivers for traffic violations below a certain level in the city

For the first time, police will not be allowed to pull over drivers for low-level traffic violations in Philadelphia. In an article published by The Hill, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed two bills into law this week which

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Credit: Matt Popovich

For the first time, police will not be allowed to pull over drivers for low-level traffic violations in Philadelphia. In an article published by The Hill, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed two bills into law this week which will cause a review of policing practices that have disproportionately affected Black drivers for decades. As of the date of the bill’s enactment, it will take effect 120 days after Mayor Kennedy signs both bills – which is reported to have taken place on Wednesday (Oct. 27). According to the Mayor’s office, the legislation will be implemented through executive action that will be signed on November 3.

A 14-2 vote cleared the bill for Driving Equality in the city council on Oct. 14. In certain instances, motor vehicle code violations are reclassified as “main” or “secondary” violations. It is still permissible for officers to stop drivers for primary violations; however, “secondary” violations, such as damaged bumpers, working taillights or headlights, and illegal operation without proving emissions inspection will no longer be enough to stop drivers.

The bills were proposed by Councilmember Isaiah Thomas in an effort to end traffic stops that negatively affect police-minority relationships. As part of his companion bill, the police department is required to collect all information regarding vehicle stops and make it publicly available.

As CNN reports, Councilmember Thomas introduced bills in October 2020 in order to reduce “tense relations between police and community members” by eliminating negative interactions. Thomas said in a statement he is humbled by the plight of those who reported humiliation and trauma suffered during traffic stops. Traffic stops are a rite of passage for many people who look like me. We pick cars, we plan routes, we schedule our social activities around the likelihood of being stopped by police.”

CNN reported that between Oct. 2018 and September 2019, there were nearly 310,000 traffic stops in Philadelphia made by black drivers. In Philadelphia, officers are expected to receive training regarding the new guidelines. According to the agency, resolving racial disparities through this method will not jeopardize public safety. As part of its efforts to address racial disparities in its investigative stops, the Department has modified its enforcement model to apply to car stops, complementing its efforts to address those same issues in pedestrian stops.”

According to Mayor Jacob Frey, the Minneapolis Police Department has ceased requesting low-level offenses as pretexts for conducting traffic stops. Officers cannot pull over vehicles for expired tabs, items hanging from mirrors, or expired licenses, according to a press release. A Virginia law was passed in March prohibiting these types of low-level traffic stops. State law prohibits officers from stopping drivers for minor traffic violations such as broken taillights, tinted windows and marijuana odor.

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