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Police Commission to vote on limiting pretext stops January 11 – join us in supporting

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On San Francisco streets last year, 37 people were killed in traffic crashes – the deadliest year since the City adopted Vision Zero in 2014.

As we look to the City to do much more to protect all of us on our streets, we simply have to talk about enforcement.

We know that enforcement of the top five most dangerous driving behaviors was near rock bottom in 2022. Looking at SFPD’s stats for November, the most recent month available, there were just 243 “Focus on the Five” citations. That’s about 8 citations per day across the entire city in total.

The SFPD points to staffing shortages. We hear that, but we also point to the fact that many citations are given for low-level, minor offenses like sleeping in a car, having a broken tail light, or tinted windows. They’re known as “pretextual stops” because they are used as a pretext to search people, which data shows are racially-biased (read more in the San Francisco Chronicle).

Walk SF believes the limited resources of our city’s police department should be focused on the most dangerous driving behaviors, not low-level, minor offenses. That’s why Walk SF is part of a coalition of 65+ organizations that want to end biased, pretextual stops in San Francisco, which includes the ACLU of Northern California, All of Us or None, Council on American-Islamic Relations, GLIDE, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco Public Defender, SPUR, and others.

On Wednesday, January 11 at 5:30PM, the SFPD Commission will vote on whether to limit a list of nine types of pretext stops (read the specifics on the nine types). You’re invited to join us in making public comment in support of these limitations.

You can also read talking points in the Coalition to End Pretext Stops action kit.

The San Francisco Police Department is one of the 13 city agencies committed to Vision Zero: a comprehensive, data-based, preventative approach to ending severe and fatal crashes by 2024. We need to be sure they are contributing to progress in a meaningful way.

As always, reach out to me at with your thoughts on enforcement.

Banner image by Raymond Wambsgans via Flickr Creative Commons