Each of these incidents involved a pretextual traffic stop–when police officers use relatively minor offenses as a reason to conduct a traffic stop. According to the Stanford Open Policing Project–the largest study on police stops in history–Black drivers are more likely to be pulled over by police officers and one-and-a-half to two times more likely to be searched. “When we apply the threshold test to our traffic stop data, we find that police require less suspicion to search Black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers,” researchers noted. “This double standard is evidence of discrimination.”
It’s worse in Minnesota. In Minneapolis, a city that is 19.2 percent Black, African American drivers account for almost 80 percent of routine traffic stops, and were searched at 29 times the rate of white drivers. Perhaps that’s why officers in the Minneapolis Police Department choked Black people unconscious at six times the rate of whites. Maybe that is why, over the last twenty years, law enforcement officers in the state killed Black people at 5.6 times the rate of white Minnesotans.
And, perhaps this is why Ramsey County, Minn., prosecutor John Choi decided to put an end to the practice that does not make communities safer. In the relatively small suburb of St. Paul, Minn., Black drivers are four times more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. So, on Wednesday, Choi, who charged St. Anthony, Minn. police officer Jeronimo Yanez with manslaughter in the 2015 death of Philando Castile, announced that his office will no longer pursue felony cases resulting from minor traffic stops.
The Star Tribune reports:
Police critics have long argued that “pretextual” traffic stops — in which officers use minor traffic or equipment violations as legal justification for pulling over someone they wish to investigate — lead to racial profiling and inequitable law enforcement. Calls for reform amplified in Minnesota after the deaths of Philando Castile and Daunte Wright, two Black men killed by police during traffic stops for equipment violations.
A growing body of research also argues pretextual stops do little to curb crime, Choi said.
Under the new policy, his office will decline to prosecute felony cases — such as those involving illegal possession of drugs or firearms — if evidence is discovered during a traffic stop for a nonpublic safety violation like expired tabs, objects dangling from mirrors or a burned-out taillight. The policy makes exceptions for cases that endanger public safety.
The County Attorney’s Office will also not prosecute cases resulting from vehicle searches conducted without probable cause — which Choi said he hopes will discourage officers from using minor infractions to obtain consent to search individuals without suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.
Because Minnesota is one of the few states that doesn’t have a gang of serial killers with expired license tags roaming the streets murdering innocent civilians, this policy seems totally reasonable. Now that cops no longer have to keep their heads on a swivel checking for those tinted-window thugs and cracked taillight criminals, I’m sure the entire law enforcement community is ecstatic about the new policy.
Why are you laughing?
Why wouldn’t cops be happy that they can get back to doing their real jobs? They just want to fight crime and keep our streets safe. Plus, reducing interactions makes their jobs less dangerous! That’s just logic. Trust me, no cop wants to spend all day as a glorified debt collector for the state.
OK, let’s see what the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association has to say about this policy.
But wait...I thought they wanted to protect and serve? I thought “Blue Lives” mattered? This policy is backed up by years of research and statistical evidence, why would they oppose a policy that reduced their workload, made them safer and made their relationship with the public better?
It’s almost like they just want to kill Black people!