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Delegate Suggests Removing Financial Incentive For Traffic Stops

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Do local governments have a financial incentive for their police officers to make traffic stops?

The firestorm caused by the Windsor police officer who pepper sprayed an African-American Army officer may end up changing the relationship between money and policing in Virginia.

Delegate Betsy Carr of Richmond says this incident reveals why police departments and sheriff's offices should be de-incentivized from making traffic stops.  "Police are incentivized if they're going to get money from it just to make more traffic stops, and a lot of time Black and brown folks are the people who are bearing the brunt of this."

But Dana Schrad at the police chiefs association says local governments get that money, not police.  "The financial incentive is not on the part of the police department," Schrad argues. "It might be on the part of the locality. But the locality has always expressed that their chief concern is that speeding on that route that goes through their community presents risks for the business owners and presents risks for the residents, and they want to see speeding laws enforced."

In the past, the General Assembly quickly killed Delegate Carr's bill to prevent local governments from receiving money raised by traffic stops. But, she says, the incident in Windsor and the changing views of policing in Virginia may cause lawmakers to take another look at this issue in the next session of the General Assembly

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.