Congressman Cohen Participates in Hearing on “Equity in Traffic Safety Enforcement”
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today questioned expert witnesses about the treatment of African Americans during traffic stops. He noted that his Police Training and Independent Review Act, which was made part of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act last year, would address some of the problems associated with such stops.
He also questioned the National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO about the overrepresentation of people of color and lower income communities in pedestrian fatalities and the underrepresentation of those same groups in infrastructure investments. He noted his Complete Streets Act, which was introduced today with Senator Markey and Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Ruben Gallego, and was endorsed by the NSC during the hearing.
During his questioning of expert witnesses, Congressman Cohen said:
“Disparities in the criminal justice system, particularly police enforcement, have been a major source of political protest and social unrest in the United States. And rightfully so. There have been too many instances where a routine traffic stop has turned into the tragic loss of life. Research has confirmed that law enforcement officers pull over minority drivers at a higher rate than white drivers. In my district, the City of Memphis, which is 65.5 percent African American and has a large Hispanic population, this is especially disturbing.
“The racial profiling of drivers by law enforcement sows divisions and distrust and ultimately detracts from the intended goal – to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce vehicle-related crashes on our nation’s roadways for all individuals. We must do a better job and ensure all appropriate actions are being taken to refute implicit biases and prevent unconstitutional racial profiling. My Police Training and Independent Review Act, which was included in the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, provides resources for diversity training for law enforcement agencies.”
See Congressman Cohen’s entire exchange with witnesses here.