Philadelphia has become the first big city in the country to ban police officers from making low-level traffic stops. On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney’s office issued an executive order putting the Driving Equality Act, which separates traffic violations into “primary” and “secondary” levels, into effect. Philadelphia police officers will be prohibited from pulling drivers over for “secondary” violations like single broken taillights and improperly displayed registration stickers. Also signed was a companion bill that requires officers to log traffic stop information into a publicly-accessible database. The pair of bills were passed by the City Council by a 14-2 vote in October.
Critics have long been vocal about how authorities utilize minor infractions to target people of color, including Sandra Bland in Texas and Duante Wright in Minnesota, who were both pulled over for minor violations before they were killed. “These bills end the traffic stops that promote discrimination while keeping the traffic stops that promote public safety,” the City Council said in a statement. The Defender Association of Philadelphia has projected that the new measures could mean as many as 300,000 fewer police encounters a year. The legislation gives the city’s police department 120 days to train its officers before it takes effect.