Councilmember Will Jawando (D–At Large) has introduced a bill intended to address racial disparities in traffic stops and allow county police to focus on serious crime and road safety.
Bill 12–23, the Safety and Traffic Equity in Policing Act, would “promote fairness by reducing racial disparities that occur during a traffic stop, promote safety, and reduce community trauma by limiting traffic stops, improve community policing relations, and further the county’s Vision Zero goals,” according to the council’s staff report.
The Office of Legislative Oversight 2022 report on traffic stops concluded, in part, “while overall numbers of [MCPD] traffic stops declined between FY18 and FY22, racial disparities in traffic stops have persisted or worsened over the five-year period,” according to a press release.
“Low-level traffic stops do not produce additional safety and have a disparate and detrimental impact on community morale and trust of law enforcement,” Jawando said in the release. “We’ve been very intentional about writing the bill in a way that focuses on traffic stops that do not impact public safety or our Vision Zero goals, which are all about making our roads as safe as possible for all.”
The bill would:
- Prohibit a stop for certain traffic offenses by a police officer
- Prohibit consent searches of a vehicle by a police officer
- Require the collection of data and information related to traffic stops
- Exclude the limitations on traffic stops from collective bargaining, and
- Generally amend the county law regarding motor vehicle traffic policing.
A public hearing on Bill 12–23 is tentatively scheduled for June 13.
Photo: © Tomasz Zajda – stock.adobe.com