Seattle's inspector general wants minor traffic stops to end

SEATTLE - A City of Seattle office is hoping the Seattle Police Department will consider putting an end to less serious traffic stops; the goal is saving lives.

This week Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge sent a letter to SPD's Chief of Police, Adrian Diaz, addressing concerns over traffic stops.

In the letter, Judge states traffic stops are "inherently dangerous" for officers who are approaching strangers parked in their car, sometimes in dark and remote areas.

They are also dangerous for the community. The letter reports in 2019, 117 people were killed by police during traffic stops; 32% of them were black.

The letter lists a series of incidents where both police and civilians died during traffic stops. 

  • On April 11, 2021, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop for expired plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
  • On February 4, 2021, Darian Jarrot, a New Mexico State Police officer, was fatally shot during a traffic stop by a driver with an assault rifle.
  • On September 27, 2019, Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42 years old and the first Sikh deputy in Harris County, Texas, was killed when a suspect shot him in the back of the head during a traffic stop for running a stop sign.
  • On December 31, 2018, Iosia Faletogo, a 36-year-old Samoan man, was fatally shot by police in Seattle after being stopped for an unsafe lane change when a license-plate check on the car he was driving showed the registered owner had a suspended driver’s license.
  • On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man, was fatally shot during a traffic stop for a broken taillight in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"If we can eliminate those kinds of killings and negative kinds of interactions, then of course it will be a good idea," said Carolyn Riley-Payne.

Riley-Payne is the president of the Seattle-King County NAACP. She said she still has questions about how this proposal would be implemented, but in general, supports this proposal.

"Would we like to stop negative interaction between the police and the community? Do we think that’s a good idea? Of course we do," she said.

Q13 News reached out to SPD to comment on this letter. Officials with the department said Chief Diaz was not available on Thursday.