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Pittsburgh residents react to drastic drop in traffic stops

Reaction to traffic stops decreasing in Pittsburgh's communities of color
Reaction to traffic stops decreasing in Pittsburgh's communities of color 02:42

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's annual report for 2021 shows drivers have been getting pulled over less often in the city.

According to the data, the number of traffic stops has been cut in half from 20,562 in 2019 to 10,243 last year.

Residents shared their thoughts with KDKA-TV about whether they think this means policing is going in the right direction or not.

"That's good, the little tickets, all that stuff hurts people, poor people in the neighborhood, any neighborhood," Hill District resident Paul Harris said.

Zone 1, which covers the North Side, saw an 81 percent decrease with 3,933 traffic stops in 2019 and 749 traffic stops in 2021. In Zone 2, which covers the Hill District, traffic stops dropped from 2,850 to 808. That's a 72 percent decline. In Zone 5, which covers Homewood, traffic stops went down from 2,474 to 865, which is a 65 percent decrease.

The data shows traffic stops plummeted in minority neighborhoods.

Many people KDKA-TV spoke to in the Hill District and Homewood said that they're thankful police have driven these numbers down, especially when it comes to minor traffic violations.

"It's good, especially for the Black people. That's our biggest thing when it comes to our Black men, getting pulled over by the cops, not knowing, especially with the police brutality and all of those things," Michelle Martin, who KDKA-TV spoke to in the Hill District on Wednesday.

Residents also said it's hard to say if and how fewer traffic stops could impact public safety.

"I feel like it depends on the summer. So far with the shootings, it could be a good thing, it could be a bad thing," Martin said. 

"They still have to patrol the area, so you might get caught in something while they are patrolling. We need them out here, one way or another," said Stephen Johnson, who lives in Homewood.

City council members approved a bill in December that will prevent officers from pulling drivers over for secondary violations, like tinted windows and burnt-out taillights.

The report has drawn mixed reactions from city leaders. Some applaud it, saying it's a sign the bureau is changing its methods. Others said it is compromising public safety.

When comparing the 2021 numbers to five years ago, there's been a 65% drop in traffic stops in the city.

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