The Portland Police Bureau’s Strategic Services Division is recommending the bureau address traffic stops that don’t result in a citation or arrest, noting they “can undermine the sense of procedural justice.”
The recommendation comes out of the division’s latest annual report analyzing traffic stop demographics, which it found largely reflected demographics of crime victims and traffic injuries. (With one exception: Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians were overrepresented in stops by traffic cops.)
Still, it notes, Black drivers were “significantly more likely” to be stopped for non-moving violations, such as a missing license plate, than white drivers. And the division noted that many of these stops resulted in no enforcement action, such as an arrest or citation.
Traffic stops aren’t an efficient way to stop crime, and can lead to cases of mistaken identity or the pursuit of false leads, it says. “The Bureau should consider providing guidance to reduce the number of stops that end without an enforcement action,” the report says.
In 2021, Chief Chuck Lovell directed Portland cops to reduce enforcement of “non-moving” violations, an effort codified by the Oregon Legislature in a law limiting the practice last year.
In happier news, 2022 was the first year that the bureau found no significant racial differences in the drivers it asked to search. “Historically, Bureau personnel have disparately searched Black/African American drivers; however, this is the second straight year that the search rate for this group has moved closer to the overall search rate of White drivers,” it notes.