Decision tabled on controversial proposal to limit traffic stops in San Francisco

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Decision tabled on proposal to limit traffic stops in SF
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San Francisco's Police Commission tabled a proposal to limit some types of traffic stops, that was designed to cut back on racial bias in policing

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Police Commission on Wednesday night tabled a controversial proposal to limit some types of traffic stops.

The goal of the proposal was to cut back on racial bias in policing, which has been drawing lots of comments and concerns.

"We're up to almost 300 emails in the last 24 hours on this," said Commissioner Debra Walker.

One thing that would have been limited, is what are called pretextual traffic stops.

MORE: Black drivers are 4.4 times more likely to be stopped by SFPD than white drivers, data shows

That's when officers pull drivers over for minor infractions -- like a broken taillight or expired registration tags -- as a way to ask more questions and check for possible criminal activity.

"The intention is to reduce racial bias in traffic stops. That's the goal we all have," said Commissioner Walker.

"Black San Franciscans are seven times more likely than Whites to be stopped," said Phelicia Jones. She's with wealth and disparities in the Black community.

"I think there are more important things we have to get to in the business of stopping racial profiling. Here in San Francisco among San Francisco Police Department," said Jones. "The DOJ came here in 2016 and acknowledged there was bias in these things and this is what they need to be working on, and which they have not."

However, the proposal is yielding mixed reaction.

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The police commission is asked to consider two things.

Number one: To stop pretextual stops.

Mayor London Breed says she supports that and she says it has worked in other jurisdictions like in Los Angeles.

Number two: To ban police from enforcing a number of traffic laws without exception.

MORE: Black men are 8 times more likely to be stopped by Oakland police than White men, data shows

"This proposal is seriously problematic and I do not support it. Banning this police from enforcing moving violations and dangerous behaviors that could result in injury or death makes no sense."

"They're going to say police can't enforce that anymore," said Frank Noto with Stop Crime SF.

Noto is concerned about what the new proposal could do if it's green lighted.

"We feel it's going to increase traffic accidents. It's going to increase crime and then it's going to increase shootings. It's poorly thought out," said Noto. "Driving while Black is a problem. And there is some racism, but this isn't the way to do it."

"San Franciscans really support ending bias stops. They also want our streets safe. And they don't think the answer is eliminating the enforcement of the rules," said Commissioner Walker.

For now, the commission plans to revisit the proposal next year.

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