The Seattle Police Department announced sweeping new policies on Friday as to how officers initiate most traffic stops.
Interim Chief Adrian Diaz announced the controversial new policies through the SPD Blotter, explaining that Seattle police officers will no longer be able to treat many violation as a primary reason to initiate a traffic stop. The changes were made for the sake of "equity."
The following violations will no longer be reasons for officers to stop a car:
-Expired or missing vehicle registration. License tabs expired. (Title: License and plates required) – SMC 11.22.070
-Issues with the display of registration plates. No front license plate, a vehicle must have a rear license plate. (Title: Vehicle license plates displayed) – SMC II.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)
Interim Chief Diaz thanked the committee for enacting these new policies and said that these violations do not have a connection to the safety of other individuals.
"Overall, I am in complete agreement with the consensus recommendations and the need to de-prioritize low-risk public safety violations," Diaz said in a letter to the Inspector General.
"We know there are also reasons for concern that these violations may disproportionately fall on those who are unable to meet the financial requirements set forth by law," Interim Chief Diaz continued.
"Thank you, your team, and the working group, again for the commitment to this work. I and the entire SPD remain strong partners in the work to meet the public safety needs of this city in a safe, equitable and effective way."
Mike Solan, President of Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), said that these new policies will have a negative impact on public safety in the community.
"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," Solan told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
"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."
Lisa Judge, Seattle Inspector General, proposed to ban all traffic stops in May 2021 but her proposal did not move forward.
A Seattle police officer told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that these new policies will only embolden criminals. In July 2021, police reform legislation took effect in Washington state which includes prohibiting all law enforcement officers in the state of Washington from pursuing a vehicle without first establishing probable cause.