SEATTLE, WA – This week, new policies were announced by the Seattle Police Department will no longer be performing many non-criminal traffic stops.

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Interim Chief Adrian Diaz said that this is for equity purposes, as not everyone who receives a ticket can afford to pay it.

The original intent was to ban all traffic stops no matter the offense. Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge pushed to get rid of stops in May of 2021 after claiming that police “pose a risk” to black drivers.

The police union, however, pushed back enough to at least be allowed to perform stops for a few reasons.

In a Friday memo, Chief Diaz said officers were no longer allowed to perform traffic stops for the following violations:

  • Expired or missing vehicle registration (Title: License and plates required)- SMC 11.22.070
  • Issues with the display of registration plates (Title: Vehicle license plates displayed) – SMC 11.22.080
  • Technical violations of SMC 11.84.140, such as items hanging from the rear-view mirror and cracks in the windshield. Actual visual obstruction, such as snow, fog, non-transparent, material, or shattered windshields, will be enforced – (Title: Windshield obstruction) – SMC 11.84.140
  • Bicycle helmet violations (KCHC 9.10)

“We know there are concerns about if these violations disproportionately fall on those who are unable to meet financial demands,” the interim chief said. He also said that the above violations “can still be enforced, if there was another primary violation.”

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Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) President Mike Solan spoke with the Jason Rantz show after the announcement. He said, “If we stopped conducting traffic stops for all traffic violations in the city, doing so would have catastrophic impacts to our community’s public safety interests.

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“Moreover, if you were to compare today’s decision to what Inspector Judge first publicly said in May, today’s decision is a reasonable approach. Having said this, this decision will still have negative impacts to our community’s public safety interests and still supports the preposterous notion that police still engage in bias policing with traffic stops.”

Back in May when Judge argued to ban all traffic stops, she said, “Without drilling down to underlying issues and root causes, police and community are destined to continue the same cycle of traffic stops gone wrong. To that end, the issue of what and how conduct should be policed is perhaps as important as other root causes, such as institutional racism and subconscious bias. For safety of both officers and the public and for racial fairness, SPD should seek to eliminate routine traffic stops for civil and non-dangerous violations.”

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