Obeying stop signs is no longer optional in Detroit, and police now are pulling over motorists for violations like cracked windshields or busted tail lights, says the Detroit News. Police often overlooked such infractions in the past, but Police Chief Warren Evans has ordered officers on his Mobile Strike Force to stop motorists in high-crime areas for any legal reason in hopes of finding unregistered guns. Strike force officers are knocking on doors of known parole and probation violators and their relatives in high-crime areas.
The tactics have been credited with cutting crime and getting guns off the street. Civil rights advocates say the aggressive policing may be crossing the line and has led to an increased number of civilian complaints against the department. Inspector Eric Jones, who leads the Mobile Strike Force, sent an e-mail to a sergeant last month, warning that officers who don’t make enough traffic stops will be disciplined. “Low producers will be administered WRITTEN progressive discipline,” Jones warned. Critics say Jones’ email amounts to a quota, which pressures officers to pull over motorists without cause if no legal reason can be found. “We’re asking officers to make legal stops of cars that look suspicious that have broken traffic laws,” Evans said. “Is that too much to ask?” Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said the approach could lead to racial profiling or other abuses. “What do they deem suspicious–young African-American men who happen to be driving in a high-crime area?,” he asked.