Members of the California Senate recently passed a bill to limit police from pulling over drivers for certain minor safety infractions.
SB 50 would prohibit police from pulling over someone for something like lighting, registration or license plates alone. The bill's supporters say it would help to reduce racial profiling and free up law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.
"Our primary reason for supporting this is to advance public safety. To make sure the limited public resources we have, police, prosecutors, courts are focused on the most serious crimes first. The second reason we support this is because we have seen from collecting data over the years that in California and around the country, unfortunately, this becomes a tool of racial profiling," said Cristine Soto Deberry, executive director of Prosecutors Alliance of California.
But critics, including Palm Springs Police Chief Andy Mills, worry the bill would actually do more harm than good.
"About 50 percent of the guns that we get off the street that are being possessed illegally are from traffic stops. So to eliminate that tool from our officers to be able to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of people who are likely to use them is a significant concern for me," Mills told News Channel 3's Peter Daut.
Mills said, "Three times in the last week, our officers have taken guns out of the hands of kids who are driving their vehicles and shooting the guns in the air. That's exactly the kind of stuff our officers need to be able to do to keep this community safe."
The bill now heads to the state assembly.
STATEMENT FROM STATE SENATOR STEVEN BRADFORD (AUTHOR OF BILL):
“Data from traffic stops in California, that is reported by police officers themselves, shows Black drivers are disproportionately and unjustly pulled over. SB 50 would limit traffic stops for low-level, non-safety violations unless there is another important reason. This law would reduce the potential for harm to innocent members of the public. SB 50 will allow law enforcement to focus their time and resources on preventing and solving serious crimes that actually do impact public safety, instead of lower-level non-safety stops that could be handled with a violation letter sent to the vehicle’s owner. This isn’t about limiting law enforcement’s ability to do their job. We’re asking law enforcement to do it in a less discriminating manner, and a more color-blind manner.”
You can watch Peter Daut's full in-depth interview with both chief mills and supporters of the bill at the top of the article.