JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle Inspector General pushes anti-police agenda banning traffic stops

May 23, 2021, 9:19 PM | Updated: May 24, 2021, 11:21 am
Lisa Judge...
Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge is forwarding a dangerous idea. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH and City of Seattle)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH and City of Seattle)

Seattle’s Inspector General is forwarding dangerous propaganda with absurd advice. It helps further turn activists in the community against cops. But worse, she’s making it more dangerous for officers to do their jobs.

Lisa Judge is calling on interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz to end low-level traffic stops. She frames it around community and officer safety. Judge argues that pulling motorists over for non-serious crimes “has received widespread attention recently because of tragic situations involving unnecessary deaths.” She cites deaths of officers and members of the public.

Her framing is disingenuous; her argument is offensively bad. Judge doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And the consequences of just her letter to the chief can’t be understated.

Judge’s dangerously bad argument

Judge wants to see police stop pulling offenders over “for low-level, non-dangerous violations.”

Using data she either doesn’t understand or didn’t closely review, she argues traffic stops are especially dangerous for Black people. She cites Mapping Police Violence (Campaign Zero), which is run by anti-police activists, including police abolitionist DeRay Mckesson. Borrowing the same claims from anti-police activists, Judge implies police are too racist to be trusted to pull over motorists.

“Without drilling down to underlying issues and root causes, police and community are destined to continue the same cycle of traffic stops gone wrong,” Judge wrote, too lazy to drill down on root causes. “To that end, the issue of what and how conduct should be policed is perhaps as important as other root causes, such as institutional racism and subconscious bias. For safety of both officers and the public and for racial fairness, SPD should seek to eliminate routine traffic stops for civil and non-dangerous violations.”

We cannot understate the deadly effects this advice may have on policing and the community.

Dangerous implications

On the surface, there are some obvious implications to this advice if it were to be adopted.

For starters, it would lead to even more Seattle lawlessness. Why would anyone pay their car tabs or update their plates if there were no consequences, like being pulled over and ticketed? What about speeding or driving without proper lighting? What about driving with windows so tinted you can’t see the illegal activity that’s going on inside the vehicle? These are generally not considered serious, low-level violations. She doesn’t even want motorists pulled over from driving on a suspended license.

But more importantly, Judge implies cops are racist and that your life is in danger when they pull you over. She will have you believe that cops will treat you differently based on a motorists’ skin color when it appears it’s Judge who is incapable of seeing anything but race.

Judge makes future stops more dangerous

Legitimizing this fringe talking point, Judge isn’t just insulting the police; she’s ensuring that future stops are more dangerous than they need to be. When told that police will hurt you when they pull you over, you become more on edge when interacting with an officer.

That tension changes the entire nature of the encounter and can lead to a more aggressive and dangerous reaction towards a cop that very well can get someone killed or hurt.

“It’s not helping the conversation,” Seattle Police Officers Guild president Mike Solan explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “In fact, I think what it’s doing is it’s another demonization … that police are the ones to blame for for what is occurring.”

“In fact, it creates more confusion and more unnecessary turmoil at the time when we need unity,” he added.

Judge cites several instances of deadly use of force stemming from traffic stops to make her case. The deadly types of instances she claims are a problem in Seattle are so rare that she could only cite from one local from three years ago. It’s not a good example for her cause.

The local case

Judge uses the case of Iosia Faletogo to argue in favor of banning most traffic stops. Perhaps she’s hoping people don’t know how to Google basic facts about the case.

On New Year’s Eve in 2018, police pulled over Faletogo after running his plates. They came back to a driver with a suspended license. While they were running the plates, surveillance footage confirms Faletogo made an illegal lane change.

When officers initially interacted with Faletogo, he had both feet out the door. Police told him to stay in his vehicle. Officers asked for his driver’s license, but Faletogo said he didn’t have one. His female passenger said she didn’t have one either. After Faletogo motioned for something inside the car, the officer told him to stop then called for backup.

Backup arrived. Within 30 seconds of approaching Faletogo, the suspect bolted on foot. Officers gave chase. When they caught up to Faletogo, the suspected resisted after multiple chances to stop.

As Faletogo was on the ground, bodycam footage shows him holding onto the barrel of a handgun he apparently possessed at the time of the traffic stop. He continued to struggle against the officers, who saw him reach for the gun before shooting and killing him. Officers did nothing wrong. They were cleared by the Office of Police Accountability.

What that traffic stop means

Faletogo’s handgun was stolen and connected to a car prowl in Renton.

The investigation found Faletogo was also in possession of 263 pills marked as Oxycontin but was actually a counterfeit mix of acetaminophen and fentanyl. He also had $1,600 in cash.

Had officers not made the traffic stop, which Judge would have preferred, it’s true Faletogo would not have been killed by police that night. It’s also true that Faletogo could have used the stolen handgun against innocent civilians. He also could have sold the drugs. Indeed, Faletogo had previously pleaded guilty to one count of drug conspiracy with intent to sell heroin in Petersburg, Alaska.

This traffic stop may very well have saved countless lives, especially since if he were to sell the fentanyl-laced counterfeit Oxycontin, it could have been deadly.

But Judge’s focus is on protecting bad guys while demonizing police.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Seattle Inspector General pushes anti-police agenda banning traffic stops