‘Contactless policing’ — NJ proposal calls for fewer traffic stops
Do you really need to be pulled over for that busted taillight?
Citing a "disproportionate targeting" of Black drivers, a proposed New Jersey law aims to substantially reduce the number of traffic stops on our roads, promoting a concept known as "contactless policing."
"That stop can take up to 15 to 20 minutes. An altercation can happen from that small, minor infraction," Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, D-Essex, told New Jersey 101.5.
Speight's measure permits police departments to issue citations in the mail for a long list of offenses.
But the bill notes that officers should certainly initiate a motor vehicle stop for certain reasons, such as excessive speeding, tailgating, driving recklessly, leaving the scene of an accident, seemingly driving while intoxicated, and other actions that put public safety at risk.
The current language of Speight's bill prohibits officers from pulling over motorists for minor reasons, but Speight noted in her interview with New Jersey 101.5 that she's reworking the bill to give officers the discretion to stop drivers for these offenses.
"This is not against police. To me, it's to help them," Speight said. "A lot of minor vehicle stops have resulted in someone's death, and a loss of an officer's job and/or life and their pension."
According to Salvation and Social Justice, a nonprofit in Trenton, municipalities across the nation have been discussing whether or not police interaction is necessary when dealing with minor traffic offenses.
Policy director Racquel Romans-Henry said it makes sense to explore alternative methods of addressing certain traffic offenses, but a proposal such as Speight's doesn't necessarily get rid of "over policing and oversurveillance" in Black communities.
"We are concerned that this bill could result in disproportionate application of the law in Black communities causing significant economic hardships in the forms of disproportionate fines and fees," Romans-Henry said.
Speight said her measure includes language requiring official reports that would determine whether contactless approaching is resulting in an "abuse of citations."
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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