The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police has filed a lawsuit against the city opposing the Driving Equity Bill that is set to go into effect March 3. The law says police can no longer stop motorists for certain basic traffic violations.
The lawsuit, filed in Common Pleas Court, seeks to invalidate a city law banning officers from pulling over drivers for low-level offenses, saying the law illegally preempts existing state laws on traffic violations. It also argues that the First Class City Home Rule Act prevents Philadelphia from creating a law counter to those already in place throughout the rest of the state, 6ABC reports.
Philadelphia Councilmember Isaiah Thomas drafted the bill and insisted it doesn't affect safety. Thomas said police will still be able to pull over anyone who broke the law.
"Nothing in my bill will allow law enforcement to be handicapped when a crime is committed," said Thomas in October 2021 when the city council passed the bill. “If someone decides to blow a stop sign or someone is driving drunk, none of those things have changed."
It bans officers from pulling over vehicles based on traffic violations that are considered "secondary violations" in an effort to prevent racial disparities in traffic incidents handled by police, FOX29 reports.
Single brake light, headlight, running light, etc. not illuminated; vehicle not registered within 60 days of the observed infraction; registration plate not clearly displayed, fastened, or visible; operation of vehicle without official certificate of inspection; unlawful operation without evidence of emission inspection; bumper issues; and minor obstructions are included as “secondary violations” in the new law.
"This terrible law puts reckless drivers behind the wheel of unsafe vehicles that ultimately puts the general public in danger," says FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby. "These stops, they lead to bigger things, they find guns, they find drugs, it leads to bigger things. Whether you're black, whether you're white, whether you're Asian, whether you're Hispanic, obey the law. Get behind the wheel of a legally safe car and you'll be fine."