CHICAGO — What a difference a day (and the blazing spotlight of unanticipated media coverage) makes.
The Illinois politician who on Monday introduced legislation that would prohibit the state’s police officers from enforcing many traffic and auto registration violations said on Wednesday that he “won’t be moving” the bill forward.
Capitol Fax, a state political news site, caught up with Rep. Justin Slaughter (27th) after CWBChicago and a handful of other small, independent news organizations reported on his proposal. Slaughter was summarily “pummeled on social media,” said Capitol Fax.
“It was not my intention to get this reaction,” Slaughter told the outlet. “But I certainly understand it because of the broadness of what was reflected in the language.”
That “broadness” would have prohibited police officers across Illinois from stopping motorists for a range of violations, including expired plates, tinted windows, improper lane usage, and even speeding up to 25 mph over the posted limit.
Slaughter’s bill also stated that any evidence police collected during a prohibited stop would not be admissible in “any trial, hearing, or other proceeding,” even if the driver gave cops permission to search their vehicle.
In a rambling, hand-in-the-cookie-jar explanation, Slaughter told Capitol Fax that the law he tried to get passed was “more of a conversation starter.”
But I do plan to have the conversation about racial disparities. I think the narrative that I’m gonna put a lot of effort into is balance. Not necessarily taking away the tools from law enforcement to make traffic stops, which I get it, the current language is doing that. But the narrative that I would like folks to know is that you don’t want to take away tools for law enforcement to make traffic stops, but at the same time, what is the approach and interventions that law enforcement can make that at least acknowledge racial disparities and fairness and equity as it relates to these traffic and pedestrian stops.
So, my energy and my efforts, to your question, is to generate the discussion. Now, out of respect for law enforcement, out of respect for law-abiding citizens, it was not my intention to get this reaction. But I certainly understand it because of the broadness of what was reflected in the language.
The funny thing about all that is that Slaughter is the chair of the state House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. If he wanted to have a “conversation” about the subject, all he needed to do was schedule some hearings.
In addition to barring cops from enforcing speeding violations that aren’t flagrant enough to become criminal matters, Slaughter wanted to prevent officers from pulling people over for:
- failing to display license plates or stickers
- operating with an expired registration sticker
- not wearing a seat belt
- improper lane usage that does not meet the criminal threshold
- failing to comply with “certain requirements concerning vehicle lamps”
- excessive window tints
- defective mirrors
- obstructed windshields or defective windshield wipers
- defective bumpers
- excessive exhaust
Slaughter represents parts of the city of Chicago neighborhoods like Roseland, Morgan Park, and Beverly and parts of suburbs from Blue Island to Orland Park.