Portland police halt minor traffic stops, citing disparity

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police in Oregon’s largest city are being advised to no longer pursue drivers for low-level traffic infractions — including expired plates and broken headlights — unless related to an immediate safety threat.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also announced on Tuesday that in addition, if police do stop a driver then they must receive recorded consent before searching the vehicle and clearly inform the person that they have the right to refuse.

For example, a car driving at night without lights, although a minor infraction, would be considered an immediate safety issue and could be pulled over.

Wheeler noted these changes are also being done in part because of the police bureau’s limited staffing and resources.

“Our staffing on the streets is inadequate,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said both of the changes are in response to data showing a disparate impact on Black drivers for traffic stops and vehicle searches.

While 6% of Portlanders are Black, they account for 18% of traffic stops in the city.

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