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Pittsburgh Councilman Ricky Burgess Introduces Legislation To Stop Police From Pulling Over Drivers For Secondary Violations

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Less than a month after the city of Philadelphia passed legislation that would ban police from stopping drivers for low-level offenses, a Pittsburgh councilman is trying to do the same thing in Pittsburgh.

The legislation was introduced during a regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday.

If this legislation passes, it would prevent Pittsburgh police officers from stopping people for secondary offenses. It's legislation that City Councilman Ricky Burgess hopes to see pass by the end of the year.

"By limiting secondary stops, which have nothing to do with public safety, we create a better atmosphere," said Burgess.

Pittsburgh police traffic stop data from 2020 shows officers conducted more than 4,600 traffic stops involving Black motorists compared to more than 4,500 for white drivers. The numbers dramatically dropped for Asian, Hispanic and Latino drivers.

"African Americans are three times more likely to be stopped by police than other brothers and sisters, and that creates a chilling effect in the African American community," Burgess said.

If the legislation passes, it would prevent Pittsburgh police officers from stopping people for minor things like driving a car without an official certificate of inspection, a loose license plate or tinted windows.

Burgess said the only way a driver would get a ticket for a secondary offense is if they're stopped by police for a primary offense. However, the secondary offense can't be the primary reason they're being stopped.

"We find these are fishing expeditions. Sometimes, they use these secondary stops to stop people they've profiled," said Burgess.

The chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, Tim Stevens, has been pushing for something similar for a while.

"We were calling on the city and county to take a look at their policies in regards to traffic stops," said Stevens.

Stevens used a case out of Minneapolis as an example.

"When Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old, ended up getting killed by police over a registration issue with his license," said Stevens.

Burgess said he's pretty confident this legislation will become law after talking with public safety officials.

"They think we can do it. It's a question of what it looks like," said Burgess.

In a statement, Pittsburgh Public Safety said it looks forward to closely reviewing the proposed legislation and working with Burgess and the city council. KDKA reached out to the police union and hasn't heard back.

Burgess said he'll be discussing this legislation at the next city council meeting next week.

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