Elgin chief doubles down on opposition to pending ban on some non-moving traffic stops

With a presentation to the city council by Elgin's community task force on policing still pending, Police Chief Ana Lalley used her weekly radio show to further explain her opposition to a ban on some traffic stops.

The task force is recommending a ban on some non-moving traffic stops out of concern about racial bias in the police department. Two recent studies cited by Lalley, using different methods, showed Black residents are between 7.8 and 1.6 times more likely to be stopped by police than white people in recent years.

Examples of non-moving violation traffic stops would be objects hanging from a rearview mirror, recently expired license plate stickers and a broken taillight.

At the community policing task force's last meeting, Lalley opposed doing away with those types of traffic stops.

During her Friday radio show, Lalley said she supports those types of stops because the violations were created to improve safety. A mismatched vehicle registration could be a sign a car is stolen, while someone driving with no lights on might be intoxicated.

Plus, even if Elgin police stop pulling over motorists for those violations, the sheriff's deputies and state police patrolling the city will still enforce those laws, Lalley said. That disparate enforcement could create confusion for drivers, she added.

Second, the idea behind banning those types of traffic stops stems from a reform measure put in place in Philadelphia about a year ago. The Philadelphia police union is challenging that ban. And the impact of the change is unknown.

"The unintended consequences of something like that is something that no one knows yet," Lalley said. "Where's the data? Is it effective? No one knows."

This week Elgin recorded its 41st shots-fired incident in the city. That's two more than last year at this same time. Lalley said officers recovered more than 40 illegal firearms during traffic stops. Though the number of shots fired incidents is up, Lalley said confiscating illegal firearms cuts into that increase.

"We need to get these guns off the street," Lalley said. "We can't have 41 shots-fired (incidents). We can't have one. That's probably never going to happen, but we need to be working toward that."

One key factor missing from the discussion so far is a specific examination of five years' worth of Elgin traffic stops by the Center for Policing Equity. That study, which was expected to be completed months ago and made available to the task force, will help measure any patterns of racial profiling in the Elgin Police Department.

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