Portland, OR — Most people reading this article know what it is like to have the blue and red lights pop up in your rear view mirror. The last thing going through your mind at this point is the feeling of 'being protected.' This feeling comes from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the time a driver sees police lights in their mirror is because they have been targeted for revenue collection—often the result of a quota system—and they are about to be given a ticket, or worse.
Police, we are told, are here to keep us safe and protect us from the bad guys. However, public safety all too often takes a back seat to revenue collection. Time and time again, the Free Thought Project has exposed quota schemes in which officers were punished for not writing enough tickets or making enough arrests.
While many departments continue this predatory policing practice, in Portland, Oregon, a paradigm shift is taking place.
On Tuesday, Portland's police chief announced that officers will no longer prey on motorists for low-level "infractions." The AP reports:
Police in Oregon’s largest city are being advised to no longer pursue low-level traffic infractions — including expired plates and broken headlights — unless related to an immediate safety threat, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Tuesday.
In addition, if police do stop a driver they must receive recorded consent before searching the vehicle and clearly inform the person they have the right to refuse.
Wheeler said both changes are an attempt to refocus on immediate threats and are also occurring in response to data showing a a disproportionate impact on Black drivers for traffic stops and vehicle searches. While 6% of Portlanders are Black, he said they account for 18% of traffic stops in the city.
“The goal of these two changes is to make our safety safer and more equitable,” Wheeler said.
Predictably, some of the top brass is not happy with this move and are promising to continue the practice of preying on motorists for victimless crimes.
Portland police will still, under certain circumstances, “be able to make stops allowed by state law and bureau directives, “ including low-level infractions, Lt. Greg Pashley told Oregon Live.
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Pashley is undoubtedly supported in this stance by many of his colleagues who fail to realize that when cops are told to be road pirates — and unquestioningly carry out orders in fear of disciplinary action — people tend to view police as the enemy.
Mandating that officers issue citations and make arrests for low-level traffic infractions is nothing close to "protecting and serving." In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Requiring cops to extort citizens over victimless crimes forces conflict and potentially hostile interactions in situations where their would otherwise be no conflict.
It truly forces police officers to create criminals out of innocent people in order to generate revenue, or they face losing their jobs.
What's more, whether intentional or not, it is overtly racist.
As the 2014 death of Mike Brown in Ferguson exposed, in 2013, African-Americans accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops, while making up only 63 percent of Ferguson’s population.
For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops in Ferguson ended up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines. Ferguson was running a de facto debtors' prison.
Revenue collection, persecution of the poor, and debtor's prisons take place in every county, in every city, across every state. This institutionalized cruelty is little more than a day's work for the millions of bureaucrats involved in the racket.
Sadly, until this system of wealth extraction brought to a halt through radical policy changes like this move in Oregon, cases of cops preying on the poor will continue at an ever increasing rate until the whole country is one big prison.