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After backlash, Rep. Slaughter says he won’t move controversial traffic stop bill, but wants conversation

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago) told me today that he’s been getting pummeled on social media and in his emails about his bill

Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that no law enforcement officer shall stop a motor vehicle for: (i) failing to display registration plates or stickers; (ii) being operated with an expired registration sticker; (iii) violating general speed restrictions (unless that violation is a misdemeanor or felony offense); (iv) improper lane usage (unless that violation is a misdemeanor or felony offense); (v) failing to comply with certain requirements concerning vehicle lamps; (vi) excessive tint; (vii) defective mirrors; (viii) an obstructed windshield or defective windshield wipers; (ix) defective bumpers; (x) excessive exhaust; and (xi) failure of the vehicle operator to wear a safety belt. Provides that no evidence discovered or obtained as the result of a stop in violation of these provisions, including, but not limited to, evidence discovered or obtained with the operator’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding. Preempts home rule powers.

Pretty cringey.

* Law enforcement’s reaction has also been overwhelmingly negative

Illinois Sheriffs Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said he was “taken aback and extremely concerned” about the bill, and he recommended that sheriffs part of the association to oppose it.

Not being able to pull people over for certain offenses, as well as evidence pulled from those stops being rendered inadmissible, would make it more difficult for police officers to do things like track down a stolen vehicle or catch on to a greater crime like murder or trafficking, he said.

“I just don’t understand it,” Kaitschuk said. “It is truly perplexing to me why we would have a bill introduced of this nature.”

* “This was more of a conversation starter,” Rep. Slaughter told me by phone today. “We won’t be moving it,” he said of his bill.

More of what he told me…

But I do plan to have the conversation about racial disparities. I think the narrative that I’m gonna put a lot of effort into is balance. Not necessarily taking away the tools from law enforcement to make traffic stops, which I get it, the current language is doing that. But the narrative that I would like folks to know is that you don’t want to take away tools for law enforcement to make traffic stops, but at the same time, what is the approach and interventions that law enforcement can make that t least acknowledge racial disparities, and fairness and equity as it relates to these traffic and pedestrian stops.

So, my energy and my efforts, to your question, is to generate the discussion. Now, out of respect for law enforcement, out of respect for law-abiding citizens, it was not my intention to get this reaction. But I certainly understand it because of the broadness of what was reflected in the language.

Please pardon any transcription errors.

* He also pointed to these 2023 WBEZ stories as the reason why the conversation must be had…

    * Traffic stops of Black Illinois drivers at 20-year high despite law Obama championed: The racial gap is widening. In the last two years, the number of traffic stops involving Black drivers has topped 30.5% of all stops statewide, up from 17.5% in 2004, the first year data was released. The state’s adult population is 13.6% Black.

    * Black drivers are pulled over by police more, mostly for non-moving violations: Joshua Levin, an attorney with the ACLU of Illinois, said these encounters are rife for potential “pretextual stops” in which minor traffic violations are used as an excuse to make contact with drivers — at the expense of their civil rights — in an effort to identify more serious crimes. Amid a recent surge in traffic stops by the Chicago Police Department, the ACLU filed a lawsuit earlier this year, saying the department’s practices racially profile, harass and demean law-abiding citizens. The data also show a fivefold increase in the number of Black drivers stopped for non-moving violations and let go with a warning. Latino drivers experienced a fourfold increase since the state began collecting the data. White drivers have seen little change in the number of non-moving stops resulting in a warning.

    * Chicago’s Black, Latino drivers targets of racially biased traffic stops, ACLU lawsuit alleges: Black drivers in Chicago are four to seven times more likely to be pulled over by police than whites, while Latino drivers are stopped twice as often, according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois claiming a racially biased pattern in how Chicago police enforce traffic laws.

       

33 Comments
  1. - Friendly Bob Adams - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:04 pm:

    It’s most likely a good idea to pull the traffic stop bill. But the data seems solid that there are racial disparities in which drivers get stopped by police. Doing nothing about that situation is a bad idea.


  2. - H-W - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:06 pm:

    Thanks for the follow-up, Rich and Rep. Slaughter. This is a good solution. As noted, the disparities are real and are socially created by different policing practices across communities. Thus, they can be addressed at the local level and across communities.


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    In Chicago, it is apparent that Chicago Police have increased patrols in neighborhoods that have higher rates of violent crime. This has been true for several years.

    Many of the most violent neighbors are also home to African American and Latino residents. So if police are patrolling more in these neighborhoods, you’d expect to see more traffic citations. I wish this wasn’t the case. In all honesty, I’d like to see more police patrolling other neighborhoods equally and issuing traffic citations across the city. But the reality is that police stops can only occur where police are assigned to patrol most often.

    I don’t know how much of the racial disparity this accounts for, but it must be some portion of these stats.


  4. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:17 pm:

    –This was more of a conversation starter–

    Does he want to have a conversation about traffic laws? Because the conversation he obviously wanted is not contained anywhere in his bill.

    “Effective Jan 1 2025, state disbursements to county, municipal, or forest preserve police are to be pro-rated based on the statistics of their self-initiated contacts with the public being in line with the population diversity of said county, municipal, or forest preserve police department.”

    That starts the conversation he wants to have. He has the bully pulpit, so to speak. Use it efficiently.


  5. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:17 pm:

    I know there have been some scandals with the technology in Illinois, but I’m a huge fan of speed cameras, red light cameras, parking cameras, etc. They allow police to spend time on actual crime, keep our roads safe, are automatic, and conveniently include visual proof of the violation, and can’t be blamed for being discriminatory. The only thing to watch for is where they are installed.

    The fines are super easy to avoid too, just obey traffic laws.


  6. - Former ILSIP - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:18 pm:

    Governing by legislation does get more attention than a press release, but it also justifies every goofy “kick Chicago out of Illinois” bill that comes down the pike. Good PR for an election year, but little else.


  7. - Macon Bakin - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:18 pm:

    We must train law enforcement to debunk sovereign citizens as well as lawyers so often do. Sovereign citizens use traffic stops as a means through which to denigrate good faith law enforcement efforts, this both causes harm to LEOS and to those who are traffic stopped with genuine grievances after the stop.


  8. - Incandenza - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:23 pm:

    Pedestrian deaths are at a 40 year high - any discussion around traffic enforcement needs to consider this fact.
    https://www.npr.org/2023/06/26/1184034017/us-pedestrian-deaths-high-traffic-car


  9. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:23 pm:

    =So, my energy and my efforts, to your question, is to generate the discussion.=

    There has to be a better way to do that. I think this makes people less likely to take him seriously.


  10. - Odysseus - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:28 pm:

    “Not being able to pull people over for certain offenses, as well as evidence pulled from those stops being rendered inadmissible, would make it more difficult for police officers to do things like track down a stolen vehicle or catch on to a greater crime like murder or trafficking, he said.”

    Absolutely nothing is stopping cops from making traffic stops where a license plate has been reported stolen.


  11. - we all walk sometimes - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:31 pm:

    I’ve seen some really good civil rights / anti racist legislation like banning cops from pulling people over just for something hanging on their rear view mirror in Illinois, or legislation introduced requiring police to state why they pulled you over (especially instead of just saying “do you know why I pulled you over”… and I’m happy to talk about how pulling cars over for registration violations or expired tags or exhaust issues could exacerbate racial disparities. But speeding, obstructed windshields, improper lane usage, defective mirrors, excessive tint… all that makes a driver a risk to the people walking or biking or driving around them because they can’t see or they’re driving dangerously/too fast.

    We can also talk about other ways to hold dangerous drivers accountable that reduce police interactions — bike lane cameras for obstructions, red light and speeding cameras, even stop light cameras since drivers roll right through most times even if someone is in the crosswalk… but we have to be able to address racist policing and systemic racism in enforcement without backsliding on safety on the roads, given that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are up so high these days.


  12. - Red headed step child - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:42 pm:

    That guy has no clue what he is asking for and it wasn’t a mistake. He knew what he was doing…and if he DIDNT, then I must question his competency as a law maker.


  13. - MaddyMoon - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:42 pm:

    The slaughter awards should be a thing after this whole debacle. every year we celebrate the dumbest bill that is filed, and you get more points the faster you retract it.

    way to stick to your guns bud.


  14. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:45 pm:

    This is not the way to start that conversation. It’s an absurd piece of legislation.


  15. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:52 pm:

    =Absolutely nothing is stopping cops from making traffic stops where a license plate has been reported stolen.=

    If we have no mechanism for enforcement then why have the law on the books?


  16. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:57 pm:

    “This was more of a conversation starter,” Rep. Slaughter told me by phone today. “We won’t be moving it,” he said of his bill.”

    This was an ill-advised move, glad to know that the Overton window has not moved as far as Rep Slaughter had hoped.


  17. - DuPage - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 12:58 pm:

    It could be that higher percentages of certain groups of people tend to obey traffic laws, so they don’t get pulled over as often. People of all groups that disobey traffic laws tend to get pulled over.


  18. - Perrid - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:00 pm:

    If you give cops a lot of discretion they’re going to use that discretion. And depending on the cop that will be good or bad.

    The moving violations, speeding or improper lane usage, should never have been on the list of things to ban. The other stuff? Eh.


  19. - Bob - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:08 pm:

    The disparities are real, but telling law enforcement that traffic stops are no longer allowed is not a solution.


  20. - Lincoln Lad - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:13 pm:

    Made a mistake… took it back… tried to cover it with word salad… failed…
    Time to move on.


  21. - Bald&Beautiful - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:16 pm:

    I guess I am confused on why as to not simply visit Obama’s traffic stop bill and adding more teeth to that? From hearing from members at that time and reading the history it was even hellish to pass that bill which as we know got eventually neutered down as the WBEZ article explained. The full results of the bill that would have had an impact if passed with all the measures Obama wanted never got even met. Giving real teeth to the oversight board and exploring ways to even get law enforcement to comply is itself a momentous task for the existing act (The Illinois Traffic Stop Statistical Study Act). This alone would be tough task but at least grounded in law that already has passed. Provisions that were originally in the bill that could have been pursued (required police departments to address findings of racial bias through counseling and training, and authorized the governor to withhold state funds from agencies that failed to comply). Again a tough task but at least not a proposed bill that seems to be more of headline catcher that will set us back years from even pursuing this again!


  22. - H-W - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:30 pm:

    “Time to move on.”

    I respectfully disagree with that assessment, which several are suggesting. [PS - I am not targeting Lincoln Lad specifically nor with mal-intent]

    The disperate outcomes exist for a reason, and that reason is associated with disperate policing practices, as well as a host of other factors of variation across places - across communities - including racial diversity at the community level.

    As to the former, I might suggest that here in West Central Illinois, a simple perusal of license plates in a WalMart parking lot will suggest that where white Anglos disproportionately live and drive, a lot of people are not updating their registrations (and presumably, their insurance policies too). But since police in such places do not look for expired tags where they clearly exist, white folks may be more likely to get away with driving with expired registrations.

    I only say that to say this - Time to move on ignores the existing reality of differential justice. In so doing, the act of ignoring perpetuates racial disparities, and then assumes them to be justifiable.

    Rep. Slaughter offered a bill because racial disparities in the application of laws exist. He could have done this differently, but his purpose for doing so should not be ignored. Ignorance, the art of ignoring, is rarely a good solution.


  23. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 1:58 pm:

    A better way of starting a conversation is to file a bill that has a chance of atleast passing committee if not the House.

    A bill that could potentially be used against every House Democrat in the fall to accuse them of being soft on crime.


  24. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 2:20 pm:

    “The disperate outcomes exist for a reason, and that reason is associated with disperate policing practices, as well as a host of other factors of variation across places - across communities - including racial diversity at the community level”

    I agree, and the residents of each community have the opportunity to impact how local policing is done via the ballot box, community engagement, public comment at Board meetings, letters to the editor, and the like. No need for Springfield to fix local problems.


  25. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 2:26 pm:

    ==It could be that higher percentages of certain groups of people tend to obey traffic laws, so they don’t get pulled over as often.==

    Yeah I’m sure that’s it. Gotta love it when racists pop in here to explain how their racism is justified, or “could be” . . .


  26. - Telly - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 2:29 pm:

    A pretty effective but highly unpopular solution to the problem Rep Slaughter has identified would be to expand automated traffic enforcement. It would eliminate racial profiling, arguably make the roads safer by increasing enforcement, and also allow for the reallocation of police resources to more serious crime. But I don’t see a lot of votes in the GA for expanding automated enforcement beyond speeding in school zones and traffic light violations.


  27. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 2:56 pm:

    == lot of people are not updating their registrations ==

    It happens if you own a bunch of cars and don’t drive them all regularly. Sometimes you lose a renewal notice. Been there, done that, been reminded by an officer.


  28. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 3:04 pm:

    While it is hard to prove one way or the other if the chicken or the egg came first, if police departments are assigning patrols based on reported crimes, or calls or stops that is going to somewhat skew the demographic numbers. And yes, it does become a somewhat self fulfilling bias. I don’t know how you remove that from the equation unless you mandate every neighborhood have exactly the same racial and socioeconomic mix.


  29. - DMC - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 3:44 pm:

    Poorly written bill and trying to solve an assumed problem with a sledgehammer. Neighborhoods high in crime will ultimately be hurt even more by further limiting the police to do their job.


  30. - Wow - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 4:30 pm:

    This is not a conversation starter, it just makes him (and through association his party) look like a lunatic(s). The democrats have a super majority, if he had the capacity to put reasonable legislation together, it would get passed and he could fix the problem he claims justified this nonsensical political theater. The problem is he would rather try to score political points than do his job, i.e. pass effective legislation.


  31. - Nope. - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 4:55 pm:

    This is no different when Lashawn Ford filed that bill preventing ALL arrests without a warrant when he was running for mayor 4 years ago. It was never going to pass.

    This is a Cook County States Attorney initiative I think. They should’ve laid some groundwork. Instead, Rep Slaughter gets T-boned.


  32. - Tinman - Wednesday, Jan 31, 24 @ 6:36 pm:

    Traffic stops and everything that happens with it has to be put in context. Are more traffic stops happening in high crime areas ? Why would police pull over more people in high violence areas . Guns , drugs etc.


  33. - SLA - Thursday, Feb 1, 24 @ 1:53 pm:

    So, you can’t pull over for expired registration, then why would any law biding and responsible person continue paying it. IF others refuse to pay and get get off for free.


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