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RI POLICING

ACLU calls on Cranston police to end traffic stop quota

Cranston Police Chief says their long standing traffic stop policy is focused on “flagrant traffic violations,” not ticketing or race

CRANSTON, R.I. — A civil liberties organization on Monday called on a Rhode Island city to halt what it says is an illegal traffic stop quota by its police department.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island said the Cranston Police Department has for years required officers to stop a minimum of two cars during their patrol shifts.

The ACLU says the policy has contributed to racial profiling in the city south of Providence. The organization said any individuals who believe they may have been victims of unnecessary stops under the quota policy should contacts its office.

Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist confirmed the long standing traffic stop policy but stressed there's no requirement that an officer issue two traffic tickets per shift, which would violate the state law banning ticket quotas.

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He also maintained that these aren’t “investigative stops” but focused on “flagrant traffic violations that pose a serious risk to the motoring public.”

Under state law, a quota means "any requirement regarding the number of arrests or investigative stops made, or summonses or citations issued, by an officer regarding motor vehicle traffic or parking violations.”

Steve Brown of the ACLU of Rhode Island responded in part that traffic stops are “investigative stops” as used in the state’s anti-quota statute. He also said data continues to show significant racial disparities in the department’s traffic enforcement.