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Community activists voice support for new Pittsburgh legislation banning minor traffic stops

PITTSBURGH — Today, community activists voiced their thoughts on the new legislation that bans minor secondary traffic stops in the city of Pittsburgh. The legislation passed in December but has until the end of March before it’s fully implemented.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Reverend Ricky Burgess who sponsored the legislation, said, “For African Americans, in every living room, in every kitchen, there are stories about being stopped by the police simply for being Black.”

Burgess says this legislation is aimed at preventing that by stopping police from pulling people over for things like a burned-out headlight or an improperly placed license plate.

Burgess welcomed Philadelphia Councilman Isiah Thomas to Pittsburgh to compare the legislation to what Philadelphia has already implemented. Burgess, Thomas and activists from the area chimed in on what it would take to improve relationships between police and the community.

Pittsburgh police have some time before the legislation takes effect to train its officers, which is only part of what Burgess and activists are looking to do.

Burgess says there’s current legislation on the table to also cut down on unnecessary stop-and-frisks.

“These stops don’t end in arrests, they don’t end with them finding guns or drugs,” Burgess said. “They just become irritants and give the community a sense of being overly policed and profiled.”

One key difference in Philadelphia’s legislation includes the need for data collection, which requires police officers to collect and publish why they initiate traffic stops.

Pittsburgh city leaders say that provision is on the table here as well.

Kayla Courvell

Kayla Courvell

I was born and raised in a small town just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and decided as a child I was going to be a news reporter.