Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, which includes the state’s largest city, Charlotte, introduced a new policy for its sheriff’s office on Oct. 3, 2022, that deputies will no longer stop motorists for non-moving traffic violations such as tinted windows, revoked license, or broken tail lights. The policy also stipulates that drivers who may have an expired tag or no insurance would no longer be ticketed for it unless they are pulled over for a more severe violation. Data shown to the sheriff’s office led them to institute the policy change to reduce discrimination against motorists of color.
Sheriff Gary McFadden told WCNC-TV that attorneys from the Forward Justice and NC Second Chance Alliance groups presented this proposal after finding data that showed Black drivers were the primary targets for these violations more often than other races.
“Exercising appropriate discretion in the enforcement of our laws is one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest responsibilities of any law enforcement officer. This new policy intends to encourage Mecklenburg County sheriff’s deputies to focus on the most serious and potentially dangerous traffic offenses while treating all drivers in and through Mecklenburg County equally under the law,” McFadden said in a statement.
Unjust police killings during traffic stops have continued to drive advocacy for change since the deaths of George Floyd and Philando Castile. This policy may be the first step toward change in our justice system if other cities take heed.
For now, the policy only affects the county police and not the city’s police department.