Senator Bradford legislation will protect the public by reducing risk of deadly police traffic stops
SACRAMENTO – Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) announced detailed amendments to Senate Bill 50 that would prohibit a peace officer from initiating a traffic stop for a low-level violation, unless there is a separate, independent reason.
“We have seen far too many times how traffic stops can rapidly escalate and turn deadly. In this day and age, there’s no reason why Californians should be stopped and potentially subjected to brutality or dehumanization because of an expired license plate,” said Bradford. “This legislation will reduce the potential for more harm to innocent members of the public.”
SB 50 would limit law enforcement’s ability to use minor, non-safety-related traffic infractions to conduct, what are often, racially-biased, pretextual stops. It will also provide technical clarification to ensure that cities and counties in California have sufficient flexibility to explore non-law enforcement approaches to traffic safety.
“SB 50 will especially help to protect Californians of color from unnecessary harm and ensure that law enforcement has more time to focus on community safety by preventing and solving serious crimes,” said Bradford. “The data clearly backs up the need for this legislation. Black Californians are far more likely to be targeted by police. Passing SB 50 will also help to reduce the risk of harm to law enforcement officers by limiting the need for one of the most dangerous elements of their job.”
A 2022 study by Catalyst California and ACLU SoCal found that instead of addressing community concerns about serious crime, sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles and Riverside counties spend nearly 9 out of every 10 hours on stops initiated by officers rather than responding to calls for help. Amongst those officer-initiated stops, approximately 80 percent are for traffic violations.
Additionally, in its report released earlier this year, the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board found that people who were perceived as Black were stopped and searched at 2.2 times the rate of people perceived as white. Overall, officers searched 6,622 more people perceived as Black than those perceived as white. Furthermore, those perceived to be Black adolescents between 15 to 17 years old were searched at nearly six times the rate of those perceived as white youth.
SB 50 is co-authored by Senator Aisha Wahab. Assemblymember Isaac Bryan and Ash Kalra are Principal Co-authors of SB 50 and Assemblymembers Corey Jackson, Tina McKinnor, and Lori Wilson are Co-authors.
SB 50 is sponsored by Catalyst California, Prosecutors Alliance of California, Black Power Network, CHIRLA, California and the California Faculty Association.
"These routine traffic stops waste tremendous public dollars and undermine the safety of people of color," said John Kim, President and CEO of Catalyst California. "Passing SB 50 would ensure that no one has to fear for their life because of a broken taillight, as all too often interactions between law enforcement and communities of color lead to dehumanization, brutality, and loss of life. Enough is enough."
“It’s time to address the harms caused by racial profiling,” said Cristine DeBerry, Founder and Executive Director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California. “Pulling people over for petty violations causes fear, humiliation, and distrust in law enforcement and the criminal legal system more broadly. It can also lead to deadly consequences without providing any added safety benefit.”
"As a statewide coalition of community organizations advocating on behalf of Black communities, we are excited to co-sponsor SB 50,” said James Woodson, Executive Director of the California Black Power Network. “Black people are disproportionately stopped by law enforcement, and most impacted by racial profiling that places them in potentially harmful and life-threatening situations with police. Shifting the responsibility of enforcing low-level infractions that do not pose danger to the public away from law enforcement agencies is an important step to limiting these interactions and reimagining what public safety looks like."
Senator Bradford is Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications, and represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington