Starting this year, a new law in #California mandates that #police officers inform drivers of the reason for being pulled over before further questioning. This law, stemming from a 2022 Assembly bill, aims to address the issue of "pretextual stops," where officers use minor infractions, often unmentioned at the outset, to investigate other potential crimes.
Authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), the law responds to concerns over racial disparities in police stops and searches. Research, including a Stanford University study, indicates that Black drivers are more frequently searched than white drivers during traffic stops.
While the law does not prohibit officers from escalating a stop into a vehicle search if probable cause exists, it is seen as a step toward reducing tension and potential conflict during police interactions. Advocacy group Oakland Privacy supports the law, believing that clear communication of the stop's reason can alleviate motorists' anxiety and reduce confrontational encounters.
Exceptions to the law are permitted if an officer believes that not disclosing the stop's reason is necessary to protect life or property.
In #LosAngeles, a similar rule implemented in 2022 by the #LAPD led to a significant decrease in pretextual stops. However, the California State Sheriff's Association criticized Holden's law as overly strict, limiting officers' initial interactions during a stop.
A more stringent bill to eliminate pretextual stops for minor infractions did not pass the Legislature. This proposed legislation would have only allowed stops for multiple minor infractions, not single ones.
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