Take Action: End Racially Biased Traffic Stops in San Francisco

The San Francisco Police Department, like many other police forces in the United States, continues to over-police communities of color using what are known as “pretext stops”. This has led to huge racial disparities in who gets pulled over, and subsequently searched, for violating low-level traffic stops — like not having a front license plate, having a broken tail light, or for merely jaywalking.

Daunte Wright, Willie McCoy, Cristian Cobian, and Philando Castile should all be alive today. Instead, they were stopped by police for "driving while Black" and tragically killed by police during pretext stops.

The Coalition to End Bias Stops has been organizing around this issue, and now the San Francisco Police Commission is set to consider a policy that will ban pretext stops, prevent officers from making traffic stops for certain non-safety-related traffic violations, and prevent officers from conducting searches through a coercive process of asking permission to conduct a “consent search” during a routine traffic stop.

The process will include a series of meetings between the Commissioners, San Francisco Police Department, subject matter experts, and advocates. But first, there is an opportunity for the public to weigh in and show support for the proposed policy, and for expanding it even further to more effectively address the racial disparities in traffic stops that SFPD has yet to address.

In order to establish the most comprehensive policy, we need community members to tell the Police Chief, the Police Commission, and the Mayor that you support ending racially biased pretext stops in San Francisco.

Message Recipients:

London N. Breed, Mayor
Cindy Elias, Police Commission, Acting-President
Max Carter-Oberstone, Police Commissioner
Larry Yee, Police Commissioner
Kevin Benedicto, Police Commissioner
James Byrne, Police Commissioner
Jesus Yanez, Police Commissioner
Bill Scott, San Francisco Police Department, Chief
Paul Henderson, Department of Police Accountability, Executive Director

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Your Message

As a concerned San Francisco Bay Area resident, I urge you to end pretextual stops in San Francisco.

San Francisco mirrors the state and nation in over-policing communities of color via pretextual stops. Since 2018, SFPD has stopped Black people at least six times the rate of white people, searched Black people at least 10 times the rate of white people, and were at least 12 times more likely to use force on Black people than white people.

Research shows that enforcing pretextual infractions has little demonstrable impact on reducing crime, has significant downsides in terms of the harassment and profiling of communities of color, and is a waste of taxpayer resources. Please adopt a comprehensive policy to prohibit these racially-biased traffic stops in San Francisco as soon as possible, and do not provide SFPD with easily used exceptions that will reduce the effectiveness of the much-needed policy change.


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