Earlier this year, Philly passed so-called driver equity legislation, banning its police from pulling people over for petty offenses that disproportionately impact Black residents and can lead to violence.
Now, Pittsburgh’s city council is considering its own measure. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Pittsburgh councilman Ricky Burgess proposed a law that would also ban its cops from stopping people for small infractions, and thus creating more opportunity for potentially volatile interactions with police.
Both measures represent a more incremental approach to police reform after more sweeping measures, like the proposed George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, died in Congress. Specifically, the Philly law and Pittsbugh’s proposal target traffic stops because they disproportionately impact Black residents in both cities.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Burgess said the legislation aims to reduce the number of traffic stops, which he said are “more frequent in African American communities.”
Pittsburgh Police data show that officers conducted 4,650 traffic stops involving Black motorists in 2020, compared to 4,513 involving white motorists and 120 involving Hispanic or Latino motorists.
“We know those stops have the danger of being escalated in Black communities,” Burgess said. “It can have disastrous consequences for both the officer and the resident.”
In case it wasn’t clear: In Pittsburgh—a city with a population less than one-fourth Black—cops pull over more Black drivers than any other group. Philly, with a much larger Black population, still had a similar disparity.
From USA Today:
The legislation was driven in part by an examination of 309,000 traffic stops using police data collected between October 2018 and September 2019. Former Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey said 72% of the stops involved Black drivers; fewer than half the city’s drivers are Black.
The legislation will help take the “targets off the backs of Black people,” Bradford-Grey said.
Pittsburgh, by the way, just elected its first Black mayor, Ed Gainey, who hails from the same district that Burgess, the sponsor of the driver equity bill, represents on city council. Hopefully as mayor, he won’t get stopped for a broken tail light.