Maine Lawmaker Wants to Limit Police Power, Citing Racial Disparity in Traffic Stops
According to the Kennebec Journal, a new bill is being proposed which would remove several offences that a Maine police officer could lawfully pull you over for.
The bill, L.D. 1479, is sponsored by Maine representative, Victoria Morales, a democrat representing South Portland. In her bill, police would no longer be able to stop Maine motorists for a handful of offenses.
The bill is has been written in hopes of reducing racial profiling by eliminating pretextual traffic stops that Representative Morales says affect people of color at higher rates than white drivers on Maine roads. For reference, a pretextual traffic stop is a type of stop where an officer stops a vehicle for a minor offense to then investigate something else.
For example, if the bill became law, Maine police could not stop motorists for things like a seat belt violation. expired registration, faulty plate lights, or any other of a handful of offenses.
Drivers could of course still be ticketed for these offenses, however they couldn't be the primary reason for the stop. There would have to be a more serious offense the driver was exhibiting before the traffic stop could commence.
Morales says in part, that the bill is designed to help protect people who often comply with vehicle searches after being stopped for a minor offense. She says those stops and searches are happening to people of color at a disproportionate rate.
According to The Kennebec Journal, the bill already had a public hearing this past Thursday by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committees and was bound for a work session earlier today.
We'll keep this story updated with more information as it becomes available.
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