Loosen the cuffs ?on traffic stops

Sep 26, 2018 at 9:55 am
Rev. Kevin Cosby

It was wrong for police to stop Rev. Kevin Cosby last week — and too easy. The officer who pulled Cosby over shouldn’t have been allowed to confront Cosby for (what may have been) a minor traffic violation.

We are thankful nothing worse than a warning occurred when the officer, who is white, pulled over Cosby, who is black.

Cosby, president of Simmons College of Kentucky and senior pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in the California neighborhood, was driving after dark with his wife, in their Audi, in The West End. He recorded the stop, and the video was posted on Facebook for all to see and hear. The officer told him: “You made an improper turn back there when you turned on to 22nd, I’m not exactly sure what street it was off of, but you made an improper turn there. Also, the plastic rim around the license plate — it’s illegal. That’s the reason for the traffic stop.”

The officer didn’t even know where the alleged improper turn allegedly occurred, so how would he have written a ticket? And, as it turns out, state law allows license plate frames that do not cover the identifying information for a car’s registration, the Courier Journal reported.

The officer checked Cosby’s license and insurance and let him go after.

It’s just too easy for police to stop people — on the sidewalk, in the car, anywhere.

Do we expect police to confront people in too many situations? Is there any reason for the police to pull someone over for a broken taillight, tinted windows, a license plate frame or an illegal turn?

In bigger cities, police have given cameras the task of issuing tickets for speeding and running red lights. Why can’t the police use the same cameras to send you a ticket or warning, for a broken taillight?

If the issue is technology, Gov. Matt Bevin’s old Army buddy — the irreplaceable genius and highest-paid chief technology officer in any state — can rig a system for state and local police departments.

Whether the problem is racial profiling or subconscious profiling, bad training or just a cop on a power trip, ultimately, black America is being harassed — and imprisoned — by police for no reason.

The Rev. Jason Crosby, co-pastor at the Crescent Hill Baptist Church, wrote in a Courier Journal op-ed: “What is more likely is that the stop was an act of racial profiling that one of Louisville’s most respected black community leaders just so happened to video record with his phone.”

Beyond being unfair, insulting and potentially illegal, basic traffic stops put lives at risk, as shown tragically around the country.

Officers should have more important things to police than broken taillights, missed turn signals and tinted windows.

The only time police should stop a driver is if they have cause to believe the driver has committed a crime or is putting others in danger. Driving under the influence is the most obvious example.

The underlying problem is that police are expected to enforce a broken criminal justice system. From expired tags to smoking pot, the system is designed to make criminals, not find them.

That could have happened to Cosby or another innocent man who looked like him. If the officer was in a bad mood and wanted to start an argument, he could have made that person a criminal... or worse.

In the end, whether you’re black, white, brown or orange (not that the president needs protection), the police is the government, and there should be a higher standard for the government to stop and detain you, even if it’s only for a few minutes.