TSD Newsroom —
A Driving Equity Bill crafted by Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas was signed into law on Tuesday by Mayor Jim Kenney. It was crafted to address the tension between police and community members by removing negative interaction through minor traffic stops.
Thomas introduced two bills aimed at ending the traffic stops that promote discrimination while keeping the traffic stops that promote public safety. The approach involves redirecting police time and resources towards keeping Philadelphians safe while removing negative interactions that widen the divide and perpetuate mistrust.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for voting to pass my Driving Equality bills,” said Thomas, “but moreso, I am humbled by every person who told my office of the humiliation and trauma experienced in some of these traffic stops.
“To many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage – we pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police.”
Thomas said by removing the traffic stops that promote discrimination rather than public safety, “City Council has made our streets safer and more equitable.
“With this vote, I breathe a sigh of relief that my sons and my friends’ children will grow up in a city where being pulled over is not a rite of passage but a measure of the safety of your driving and vehicle, regardless of the skin color of the driver.”
The bill passed on a 14-2 vote.
During a recent Council session, Thomas amended his bill to allow the Philadelphia Police Department 120 days for training and education before the resulting law is implemented.
In addition to the bill, which reclassifies motor vehicle code violations, the City Council passed Thomas’ data companion bill, which mandates a public, searchable database of traffic stops (driver and officer information, reason for conducting traffic stop as well as demographic and geographic information).
Data was a main component in illustrating the problem and will be a major factor in analyzing the success or need for alterations to the Driving Equality bill.
“Data and lived experiences showed us the problem and data will be key to making sure this is done right,” said Thomas.
“Data will tell us if we should end more traffic stops or amend how this is enforced. Data will also tell other cities that Philadelphia is leading on this civil rights issue and it can be replicated.”
The Data Bill passed on a 15-1 vote.
(This story reflects information from phlcouncil.com)