Are traffic stops more harm than good? – FindLaw


A traffic policeman standing next to a sports car

The murder of Downright, a 20-year-old black man, by a police officer in the suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, began as a routine traffic stop.

So did the murder of another black man, Villando of Castile, five years ago in another Minnesota suburb, Falcon Heights.

Meanwhile, high-profile Lawsuit in Virginia He was raised by a US black army officer, Second Lieutenant Karon Nazario, in which he accused two policemen of violating his constitutional rights during a traffic stop as they pointed rifles at him, sprayed him with pepper and pushed him to the ground.

The common thread here, of course, is traffic stops. But, more than that, the strings are traffic stops of a certain nature: those that are arguably unnecessary.

The registration tabs on Wright’s car have expired; Castile car with broken backlight; A recently purchased Lazario was missing license plates (but had a temporary dealer cardboard plate taped inside the rear window).

Traffic stops “before text”

Debate arose as to whether a hiatus of this kind should occur. Some people argue that the police use “excuse” stops based on flimsy or nonexistent reasons, hoping to entrap drivers into serious crimes such as drug possession. They argue that this is a practice it has been used specifically in Aimed at black drivers And passengers. In predominantly white Minneapolis, for example, 78% of drivers stopped by the police Over the course of one year they were black or East African, compared to 12% of whites.

However, supporters of the practice argue that it is an effective crime-fighting tool. Sure, the random stops have resulted in the arrests of people who deserve it, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was stopped for driving without a license card.

In the meantime, it is important to note that risks go in both directions. In February, New Mexico State Police Officer Darian Garrott was killed by a motorist who had stopped him because the truck’s windows were dark.

Success rates are low

But Maria Ponomorenko, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, told me Minneapolis Star Tribune This excuse pause does little to curb serious crime. “The definitive proof is that it doesn’t work. Overall infection rates are incredibly low,” she said.

In 1996, the US Supreme Court ruled, in Warren v. The United States, that the stopover is constitutional as long as police officers identify a de facto violation of traffic law regardless of their motive for the stop.

However, states can enact their own laws to limit the ability of latitude police to stop, and some do. In late 2019, the The Oregon Supreme Court ruled The police can no longer stop a person for a minor offense such as failing to signal or breaking the taillight and then asking irrelevant questions such as requesting approval to search the vehicle.

On March 1 Virginia Law It went into effect to prevent the police from stopping traffic if they smelled marijuana or for a number of minor offenses.

Greater use of technology?

Sarah A. Seo, Professor at Columbia Law School, V. The New York Times These steps, like those taken in Oregon and Virginia, make sense. She argues that we need to reduce our reliance on human enforcement.

Technology could partially do the job, she says. Automatic speed cameras and red light cameras have proven effective in issuing automatic citations that violators receive in the mail.

It says similar technology can be used for expired licenses and registrations. Many police departments have automatic license plate readers that can be used to send notifications in the mail that a license or registration has expired or is about to expire.

Another approach, launched by the City of Berkeley, California, last summer, is to transfer traffic enforcement and accident duties to Unarmed civilian traffic agents. But this plan has not yet entered into effect.

Checklist if you have been stopped

Meanwhile, if you get stopped by the police, there it is Several things to keep in mind, Including:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • Park your car as soon as possible in a safe place.
  • Close the car, partially open the window, and place your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Upon request, show the officer your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
  • Put your hands in plain sight and do not make any sudden movements.

Finally, if you get caught, keep silent and ask for a lawyer right away. The police must allow you to make a local phone call. If you call a lawyer, the police will not be able to listen to the call.

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