Seattle Police Department’s interim-chief Adrian Diaz announced sweeping new policies that ban many non-criminal traffic stops. According to MyNorthwest, the changes are being made due to equity concerns. The chief argues that because not everyone can afford to pay the traffic violation fines, they must not be enforced. But some are concerned that auto thefts will skyrocket.
Under the new policies, SPD will no longer treat several violations as the primary reason to engage in a traffic stop. They include expired or missing registration, which is sometimes a clue that a car is stolen.
The move comes months after the Seattle Inspector General claimed police pose a risk to Black drivers they pull over. In fact, the original proposal would have banned all traffic stops.
Diaz made the announcement in a Friday afternoon email to staff. According to the memo, officers may not pull motorists over 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)
Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge originally proposed a total ban on traffic stops in a May 2021 memo.