By Steve Pomper
Heading into 2022, there are some positive signs for cops and the people they serve and protect. Many “defund the police” jurisdictions have collided with a reality cops know only too well. They are choosing (or being forced into) “re-funding” the police. When you diminish law enforcement, you diminish law and order. We also learned, if victimizing Walmart doesn’t get a mayor to act, eventually targeting Gucci apparently will.
When you diminish law and order, you get the crime increases that turn even social justice crusaders into equal justice advocates. Okay, maybe that’s overshooting it a bit. But when you get mayors like San Francisco’s London Breed to rally for more law enforcement, something real is happening.
Still, some jurisdictions are just not living in reality, yet. They seem stuck in a morass of anti-police ideological nonsense. Apparently, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is one of those places that hasn’t yet smacked into reality and its city council remains stuck in the anti-cop muck.
As reported at the Police Tribune, Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess has sponsored a bill that will ban the city’s police officers from making “traffic stops for minor offenses.” The Tribune-Review reported, “the controversial legislation was created to make traffic stops more ‘equitable and fair.’”
First, this is a tremendous insult to the Pittsburgh police officers who risk their safety and lives for the citizens of the city—including the Pittsburgh City Councilmembers. However, adding injury to insule, the council voted 8-1 “to pass a bill that will prohibit police officers from stopping vehicles for secondary violations like out of date inspections or broken taillights.”
This makes no sense. If these traffic offenses are truly “secondary violations,” then cops already can’t stop drivers for that offense alone, right? So, what’s the true purpose of this ban? To further prevent cops from doing their sworn duty.
Perhaps, these city council folks should go back to social studies class and get a refresher on how laws are made in America. Generally, they’re passed in the federal or state legislatures. If you don’t like a law, influence your legislature to change it.
Don’t cause confusion by passing city ordinances that bans enforcing laws, which cops have sworn to do. Doing that makes officials seem like petulant children who just want to get their way—always, and no matter what.
Burgess slobbers the same old leftist talking points about how racist cops are for enforcing “traffic stops that were more frequent in African American communities.” If they are more frequent, how about sincerely asking, why? Rather than making disparaging assumptions about officers. Either a car’s brake light is defective, or it’s not. Either drivers have gotten their vehicles inspected (for safety), or they haven’t. Again, if you don’t like the law, change it; don’t nullify it.
But what if traffic enforcement is not related to “racism.” The left likes to accuse opponents of promoting “the big lie” when they condemn leftist myths. Well, the myth that cops are racist is a big lie.
Here’s an instance from personal experience. My agency, the Seattle Police Department, back in the late 2000s to 2010s, the city conducted a study of traffic stops. I believe their intent was to “find out” cops were racist. But something must have gone wrong.
How do I know? Well, officers conducted traffic stops for months during which the city required cops to include the race and ethnicity of drivers for the study. But we heard nothing about the study’s conclusions. No grand write-up in The Seattle Times or stories in the local mainstream TV news—nada.
Now, while this does not “prove” they didn’t find what they were looking for, that officers were enforcing traffic violations based on race, does anyone doubt that such a radical city administration wouldn’t have used evidence of racism against its cops, if they’d found it? Apparently, the numbers weren’t even malleable enough to skew to their narrative.
Still, Pittsburgh City Councilman Burgess, apparently, wants us to know he has the police officers’ and the community’s welfare in mind. “We know those stops have the danger of being escalated in Black communities,” he said. “It can have disastrous consequences for both the officer and the resident.” Yeah, if the “resident” resists the cops.
The language Burgess and those like him use betrays so much. They think they’re speaking in code when they’re actually reading from an anti-cop dictionary.
To convey they are working to replace equal justice with social justice, they wrote it into the proposal. The ban’s purpose is “to ensure that policing resources are used to protect public safety and not penalize people for being poor, who, in all too many cases, are people of color.” This is not legal text. This is partisan politics and an attack on the integrity of the city’s police officers.
The lone city councilman who spoke against the legislation brought up more evidence of the nefarious intent of the proposal. Anthony Coghill decried the council’s lack of accepting public input before the its vote. Leftist politicians from federal to state to local have a history of pushing measures through without providing time for public contemplation and discussion.
Coghill spoke some sanity into the issue, saying, “We have been anything but transparent. This affects everybody. This demands a public hearing.” That demand apparently fell on deaf ears. He challenged his fellow councilmembers’ belief this ban would reduce violent interactions between police and offenders, which resulted following traffic stops.
The sane councilman said the proponents were short on data and facts. Coghill cited city statistics that “between 2018 and 2020, only 11 [traffic] stops… resulted in officers pulling out a Taser or firearm, or…” using “physical restraint.”
That’s 11 stops out of 52,000 (0.02%). Coghill added that during that time period, only one Pittsburgh cop had “fired his weapon.” And, in that incident, a suspect in a vehicle had fired at him, and the officer returned fire.
Sorry, folks. Nothing to see here. Just another city council lecture in Cop-Hating 101. Perhaps, in 2022, we all could just “move along.”