The Virginia grants are a fraction of the roughly $ 600 million that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sends to the states each year. Federal agency spokeswoman Lucia Sanchez said she was not asking for quotas or targets for grant recipients.
However, a review of government grant applications found that the number of traffic stops is a common measure of performance. For example, in Arkansas the goal was “three vehicle stops per hour” during grant-funded patrols, while in Madison, SD, officers were “two quotes per hour.
Indiana officials boasted in their 2014 annual report that officials who enforced seat belt laws made 3.26 stops an hour on average. One was in Hammond where an officer on a grant-funded patrol overtook a black family and got into an argument with a passenger, Jamal Jones, after asking for identification. The video shows officers breaking a car window and firing a taser at Mr Jones who was trying to retrieve a document for identification, according to a later lawsuit.
It was a ticket.
Despite all of the billions spent promoting police ticket issuance, there is little evidence that they helped achieve the grant’s primary goal: reducing fatal car accidents.
There were 33,244 fatal accidents nationwide in 2019, up from 30,296 in 2010. Road safety experts say targeted enforcement actions are in place, but improvements in automotive technology and road construction account for much of the advances since the 1970s and 80s when the annual fatal ones Accidents routinely exceeded 40,000.
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, some municipalities and states are rethinking their approach to traffic stops. Berkeley, Calif., Has proposed moving away from police enforcement in favor of an unarmed civilian corps; Virginia lawmakers banned stops initiated because of defective taillights, tinted windows, and loud exhausts.
The aftermath of the Nazario case prompted Windsor to find ways to slow traffic “while reducing contacts with police and citizens,” including electronic signs and rumble strips. Windsor Police also ended grant-funded patrols, saying it was “in the best interests of our agency and our community”.
When the city council tabled a new budget for the coming fiscal year, it forecast revenue increases from all major sources except one: traffic fines.
Arya Sundaram Reporting contributed. Kitty Bennett Research contributed.