PHILADELPHIA – A new law banning traffic stops for minor infractions went into effect in Philadelphia Thursday, despite recent legal challenges from the police union.
Thursday’s implementation of their Driving Equality Law made Philadelphia the first city in the country to implement a law designed to reduce cases of what’s often called ‘driving while Black’ – or getting pulled over for superficial and racially motivated reasons.
City Council passed the first-of-its kind bill in October, and Mayor Jim Kenney signed it into law in November, before it went into effect March 3.
The law bans officers from pulling over vehicles based on traffic violations that are considered “secondary violations” in an effort to prevent racial disparities in traffic incidents handled by police.
The following issues are considered secondary violations in the new law:
- Vehicle not registered within sixty days of the observed infraction
- Registration plate not clearly displayed, fastened, or visible
- Single brake light, headlight, running light, etc. not illuminated
- Minor obstructions
- Bumper issues
- Operation of vehicle without official certificate of inspection
- Unlawful operation without evidence of emission inspection
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 filed a lawsuit against the city and city officials over the law late last month, claiming that the law was dangerous.
“This terrible law puts reckless drivers behind the wheel of unsafe vehicles that ultimately puts the general public in danger,” said FOP Lodge # President John McNesby.
McNesby had expressed concerns about the law before it was passed. In October, he told FOX 29 about the importance of traffic stops.
“These stops, they lead to bigger things, they find guns, they find drugs, it leads to bigger things,” he said. “Whether you’re Black, whether you’re white, whether you’re Asian, whether you’re Hispanic, obey the law. Get behind the wheel of a legally safe car and you’ll be fine.”
The union also argues the law is not needed due to existing regulations.
City leaders who sponsored the bill say it will help put an end to traffic stops that promote discrimination and address tensions between police and communities caused by negative interactions.
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