In Oregon’s largest city, police are switching it up and taking preventative measures that directly affect the Black community in Portland. If you’re a resident or simply visiting, you won’t have to worry about being pulled over for “driving while Black.” Today the city’s Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that Portland police are advised to no longer pursue low-level traffic infractions, according to AP News. Some of the traffic infractions include expired plates and broken headlights. The only reason officers will pursue these types of incidents is if an immediate safety threat occurs.
We all know how important consent is, and so does Mayor Wheeler. In addition, to the new changes, the report states police must also receive recorded consent before searching any vehicles. Officers must clearly inform the driver they have the right to refuse a search if they are pulled over. Mayor Wheeler decided to make these significant changes to refocus on immediate threats due to data referencing that disproportionate impact on Black drivers during traffic stops and vehicle searches. While only 6% of the city’s residents are Black, they account for 18% of all traffic stops in Portland.
“The goal of these two changes is to make our safety safer and more equitable,” explained Mayor Wheeler. In addition, Mayor Wheeler noted another reason for the changes is the police bureau’s limited staffing and resources. He says the staffing on the streets is inadequate. Currently, the Portland police bureau has struggled, and staffing numbers have reached the lowest staffing in decades.
In the past nine months alone, the department has experienced a rapid turnover, with more than 120 officers leaving. Just last week, over 50 officers resigned. Many say that low morale and burnout from racial justice protests are the reasons.
Roommates, do yall think these changes are the right move?