GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro Police will have fewer reasons to pull you over, starting Wednesday.
Chief Wayne Scott announced a special order at Tuesday's city council meeting to put a temporary end to traffic stops for vehicle equipment infractions. So, no more getting pulled over for things like a broken tail light, a cracked windshield, or tinted windows that are too dark.
GPD said it's in response to data that made the front page of the New York Times, data that shows black drivers are pulled over more often than white drivers in Greensboro.
"While most of these violations will continue to be enforced through annual state vehicle inspections, I believe this is the first step to eliminating what I believe is often perceived as a needless impact on our community," Chief Scott said.
About 25 percent of all traffic stops by Greensboro Officers are for vehicle equipment infractions, according to the chief. He said overall, these are minor stops, but can lead to friction between the officer and the driver.
The New York Times article shows data found that since 2010, officers searched black drivers more than twice as often as white drivers. Data also shows police found contraband 21 percent of the time when black drivers were searched compared with 27 percent of the time when searching white drivers.
"The easiest thing for me to do is eliminate the issue from its beginning. So I'm stopping our folks from engaging in those stops but likewise it's a great opportunity for me to refocus them to the new NOP program," Chief Scott said.
NOP is neighborhood oriented policing. Chief Scott said officers can spend the time they would spend making those stops on foot in neighborhoods engaging with the community. Council members said they're frustrated with the data disparities, but glad to see the department making changes.
"The fact that minorities are targeted four times as high as the white population is very troubling to me," Mayor Nancy Vaughan said. "We have an opportunity maybe a year from now maybe to be back on the NY Times for the great advances that we've made."
"I appreciate you saying that there will be zero tolerance and I do believe even something as small as not stopping someone from a broken taillight can help alleviate a lot of things," council member Marikay Abuzuaiter said.
Chief Scott said he is deeply disturbed by the data that more blacks drivers are pulled over than white drivers. In August, he had already requested researchers analyze the stats. He said racial bias and racism with the police department are not tolerated.
"The article itself didn't really prompt me, speaking to people around the community about that article did. And I just really felt like I couldn't wait any longer for the data to come back that as a chief I needed to make a decision to affect change," Chief Scott said.
Again, GPD said the change is temporary. The department will evaluate the data and feedback about the change every 30 days. Chief Scott said he will bring those updates to city council.