Seattle bars some traffic stops over equity concerns

AP Photo/Aron Ranen

There’s a strong contingent of people in Seattle who seem to think indigent people should be given a pass by the justice system. That’s how you wind up with a relatively small number of homeless people being the city’s most prolific criminals, many of them arrested hundreds of times. That’s already the defacto stance in Seattle and back in 2020 one City Council member even considered making it official by proposing a policy that would make drug abuse or mental health issues a defense to all misdemeanors. In short, if you can show you’re an addict in Seattle you would have a license to steal.

Fortunately, that particular proposal hasn’t moved forward, but last week, Seattle radio host Jason Rantz reported that traffic stops by police have now been cut back over concerns about equity. The acting police chief sent out an email stating that certain reasons for making stops, like missing tags or expired registration, will no longer be considered proper. The thinking is that people without current registrations probably can’t afford them, so why punish them further. Even this policy was apparently a compromise. Originally Seattle’s Inspector General wanted to put an end to all traffic stops. claiming Seattle police represented a threat to black drivers:

These policies came from a working group convened by Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge, at the behest of Diaz. Judge is a progressive activist who doesn’t trust police officers.

In May 2021, Judge called on Diaz to end all low-level traffic stops because they are, she argues, especially dangerous for Black motorists.

“Without drilling down to underlying issues and root causes, police and community are destined to continue the same cycle of traffic stops gone wrong,” Judge wrote. “To that end, the issue of what and how conduct should be policed is perhaps as important as other root causes, such as institutional racism and subconscious bias. For safety of both officers and the public and for racial fairness, SPD should seek to eliminate routine traffic stops for civil and non-dangerous violations.”

While Judge implied these deadly traffic problems are frequent, she could only cite one local example. But it involved a suspect who fled from police, and then went for a gun before officers shot and killed him. Officers were cleared of wrongdoing by the city watchdog group.

Rantz spoke to a couple of Seattle police officers who said that even the revised policy limiting traffic stops would be a boon to car thieves:

“That’s exactly what our main concern is. Auto theft is off the rails, and they switch plates all the time, or take them off and make fake temporary tags,” one officer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

A second officer reached out to the Jason Rantz Show with concerns, too.

“Right off the top of my head, anybody who has kidnapped a child and takes their license plates off, … or they have a matching vehicle for a bank robbery and they’ve taken the license plates off, … we’re not going to be able to stop them,” the officer said. “And the criminals already take the license plates off of stolen cars to go commit other crimes like armed robberies and carjackings.”…

Since this new policy comes from Judge’s recommendations, morale will take another hit within the SPD, one officer tells me. Her recommendations stem from a belief that they’re too racist to police safely. And [Acting Chief] Diaz went along with it.

Stepping back it seems as if Seattle has learned nothing over the past several years. The city still seems eager to have its public safety policy dictated by the far left voices in the city, despite several recent reasons (defund the police, CHAZ/CHOP) not to trust the advice of activists.