From guest writer Joe Cadillic who writes the MassPrivatel Blog
According to The Stanford Open Policing Project which looked at over 100 million police traffic stops in the United States, “Police pull over more than 50,000 drivers on a typical day, more than 20 million motorists every year.”
Does that mean 50,000 people are breaking the law every day? Is there an epidemic of lawbreakers on our streets? Of course not, so why are police stopping 20 million motorists every year? Police across the country don’t just ticket millions of Americans every year, they’re also questioning them.
Unfortunately the Open Policing Project doesn’t mention how many passengers are stopped and questioned by police every year. Many motorists travel with someone so the amount of people being stopped & questioned might be double than the estimated 20 million. The numbers become even more disturbing when the estimated 50,000 motorists stopped each day turns into a conservative estimate of 80,000 or more motorists plus passengers stopped each day.
In a recent Reason.com editorial, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman wrote in Curbing Traffic Stops would Save Lives that traffic stops are often an excuse for cops to search a car for drugs and guns. He added, “Curtailing police reliance on this pretext would free motorists from being dragooned to ‘consent’ to searches for which the cops lack probable cause.” Chapman continued, “True, the change would let criminals operate at less risk. But hassling the innocent to catch the guilty is an abuse of our constitutional principles. In Illinois last year, police conducted 2.17 million traffic stops. Just 8,938 yielded contraband—one bust for every 242 stops.”
Unfortunately, Chapman goes on in the editorial to extol the virtues of automatic traffic enforcement, a major step in the wrong direction, which most of the online commenters were quick to point out.
On top of traffic stops, did you know that law enforcement use at least fifteen different types of checkpoints to stop and question motorists?
In what country would it be acceptable to stop and question millions of people?
Certainly not America the land of the free, right?
For years, police have had to meet ticket quotas during their shifts. A Google search for “do police have quotas” returned over five million hits, and a Google search for “police ticket quotas 2017” returned close to six million hits.
In 2015, a Boston.com story said Traffic Ticket Quotas are Real. “Officers were told to issue more revenue-generating tickets. Officer Tom Delaney said that officers who didn’t operate under the system wouldn’t get overtime assignments and other perks.”
It’s the same story across the country.
Police departments send text messages to officers on the road reminding them to reach their quotas during their shifts. In 2015, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer claimed he was texted about not meeting ticket quotas and denied a night off.
In 2017, the NYPD agreed to pay $56.5 million to people written bogus tickets by police.
If the public knew how much money is being made off of motorists each year from taxes, fines and arrests there would be a public outcry.
The Stanford Open Policing Project points out that police don’t want the public to know how many people are stopped each year. “Some states don’t collect demographics of who police pull over. States that do collect the information don’t always release the data.”
Why do we know how many people are arrested for drunk driving each year but have no data about how many motorists have been ticketed by police?
According to Stanford, “The most common police interaction — the traffic stop — has not been tracked, at least not in any systematic way.”
It’s 2017 and we still don’t know how many motorists are being stopped and ticketed in America!
States like California and Texas have stopped 24-32 million motorists from 2009-2015, while states like Rhode Island and Montana have stopped approximately 500,000-825,000 motorists.
Secrecy is a cop’s number one priority.
The Open Policing Project found that police require less suspicion to search black and hispanic drivers than whites and they’re two or three times more likely to be searched: “After accounting for age, gender, and location, we find that officers ticket, search, and arrest black and hispanic drivers more often than whites… when pulled over for speeding, black drivers are 20% more likely to get a ticket (rather than a warning) than white drivers, and hispanic drivers are 30% more likely to be ticketed than white drivers. Black and hispanic motorists are about twice as likely to be searched compared to white drivers.”
“When we applied the threshold test to our traffic stop data, we find police require less suspicion to search black and hispanic drivers than whites. This double standard is evidence of discrimination,” the findings noted.
This is the first study that shows police are stopping and questioning thousands of motorists every day and millions of passengers every year.
The next time you’re stopped by the police, exercise your right not to speak. To travel freely in America is not a privilege, it is one of our constitutional rights.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author. For the NMA’s list of Traffic Stop Do’s and Don’ts, click here.