Triangle sheriff's officers not considering change to traffic stop policies

Jamiese Price Image
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
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Traffic stops are the most common interaction between police and the community, and recent events have people re-thinking those interactions.

Traffic stops are the most common interaction between police and the community, and recent events have people in the Triangle re-thinking those interactions.

"I've been in a situation where I've been harassed by the police and pulled over for dumb things," sriver Markish Johnson said.

Those traffic stops can include anything from speeding to an expired tag. But some of the interactions disproportionally impact communities of color.

ABC11 I-Team: Black drivers pulled over, searched by police at disproportionate rate

Activist and attorney Dawn Blagrove with Emancipate NC said she's seen these interactions escalate.

"Emancipate NC is actively involved in a case out of Greenville, where a woman was pulled over related to an expired tag and ended up having to have five nails put into her fingers because they were fractured by law enforcement. As a result of that stop."

Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office has now instructed deputies to not pull over drivers for minor nonmoving violations like a broken taillight, expired tag, or improper window tint.

"I think it's a pretty good idea seeing that coming from a neighborhood where I come from, they use that as a tool to just pull random people over," Johnson said.

SEE ALSO: Shaw students stopped, searched while on school trip to economic conference in Georgia

But Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office policy is not being widely considered across the state. ABC11 checked in with several police departments and sheriff's offices across the Triangle who told us they're not considering a similar policy at this time. Some agencies pointed out they didn't want to take away an officer's discretion.

"The reality is that despite the fact that all of the local law enforcement agencies in the Triangle who have grossly disproportionate stop rates of black and brown people simply do not care, that they are terrorizing black and brown communities and allowing their officers to terrorize black and brown communities for things that do not impact safety," Blagrove said.

State data showed 40% of traffic stops in North Carolina were speed limit violations, and 29 % were regulatory or equipment violations.

"As one who receives several grievances throughout the year, many of those grievances come as a result of traffic citations from -- and we call that flash mobbing -- where you're pulled over because of the flashy rims and the flashy tint," said Dr. Kimberly Muktarian, an activist with Save our Sons.

She is now sending a letter to the North Carolina Attorney General to take a closer look at several traffic stops that escalated.

"We'll be asking him to reopen three major cases in Raleigh and also Alamance County that resulted in the deaths of three Black men due to traffic stops, "Muktarian said.

The President of the North Carolina Sheriff's Association shared that each county is different and what works for one county will not necessarily work for other communities.