will not prosecute some charges of traffic stops | Vermont News

BURLINGTON, Vermont (AP) — The state’s attorney for Vermont’s largest county said his office will not be prosecuting certain cases where evidence was seized during traffic stops in an effort to address racial disparities during of these stops.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George announced Thursday that her office does not plan to pursue most charges stemming from ‘non-public safety’ traffic stops, ‘to help alleviate implicit bias , help restore our community’s trust in local institutions and improve security within our communities.

This means that if someone is pulled over for an expired inspection sticker or fails to signal a lane change and the officer finds a reason to search the vehicle that could lead to evidence of another crime, the office the prosecutor may decide not to prosecute, WCAX-TV reported.

“Each case will always come to our office and we will review it to determine whether or not there is a significant reason or justification to continue with the charge,” George said.

The policy change is prompted by data that shows Native Blacks of color are being stopped and searched at a disproportionate rate in Vermont compared to other drivers, she said.

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University of Vermont economics professor Stephanie Seguino, one of the authors of recently released data showing a 40% drop in traffic stops in Vermont in 2020, told MyNBC5 that George’s decision “could help reduce racial disparities in judgments”.

But South Burlington Police Chief Shawn Burke said the policy was flawed and would not change the way his officers do their jobs.

“I think it’s important for the public to understand that it’s still up to law enforcement to do this job,” he told MyNBC5. “Impaired drivers are notorious for not signaling a lane change, unsafe and uninsured vehicles travel our highways unchecked every day, stolen vehicles often carry bare license plates belonging to others cars.”

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