When a police officer uses a traffic stop as cover to check for a more serious crime, that’s pretextual policing. Unfortunately, this type of enforcement does little to improve traffic safety and isn’t effective at reducing other types of crime. When police pull over bike riders for minor offenses, they disproportionately target Black and Latino people on bikes and rarely find evidence of crimes, as an LA Times investigation demonstrated.
This week, the Assembly will vote on a bill already approved by the Senate, which would end pretextual traffic stops of people biking or driving. It will lead to fairer and more effective policing. Please email your assemblymember today.
Pretextual traffic stops do more harm than good
When police use traffic stops as a type of “stop and frisk” on wheels, they target drivers in high-crime areas, not streets prone to traffic violence. These traffic stops do nothing to prevent speeding or reckless driving, and they don’t make the streets safer for people biking or walking.
Pretextual stops are also a bad tactic if the goal is to combat crime. A report by Catalyst California and the ACLU found that traffic stops in several Southern California counties were racially biased and rarely uncovered serious crimes. Freeing police to spend more time on proven methods to solve and prevent crime would be a better use of law enforcement budgets and a benefit to communities.
Traffic stops are the most common time for citizens to come in contact with law enforcement, and sometimes those encounters can turn deadly. By reducing the number of traffic stops, we can reduce fatalities and make our streets safer for all Californians.
Please tell your assemblymember to vote yes on SB 50. It just takes a minute.