San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Friday announced new policies taking effect immediately within his office.
Prosecutors will no longer charge people with the possession of contraband resulting from stop-and-frisk style pretextual searches or make use of status-based sentencing enhancements such as prior strikes or alleged gang affiliation status, except in extraordinary circumstances.
"Pretextual stops and sentencing enhancements based on who you know rather than what you did are relics of the tough-on-crime era that failed to make us safer," Boudin said in a statement.
"Instead, they led to mass incarceration, targeted innocent black and brown drivers, and increased recidivism. They stand in the way of fairness and justice," he said.
Pretextual stops are when an officer uses a minor traffic infraction to pull over and search a motorist.
According to Boudin's office, research shows pretextual stops erode trust in communities of color and result in disproportionate arrests and higher convictions.
Black drivers in the city are stopped five times more often than white drivers, Boudin's office said, citing a 2020 Racial Identity and Profiling Advisory Board Report.
The report also concluded drugs were only found in 1.3 percent of traffic stops, and firearms or ammunition were seized in just 0.6 percent of the stops.
Supervisor Shamann Walton applauded Boudin's decision.
"Pretextual stops, just like stop-and-frisk, overwhelmingly target communities of color. These policies, along with gang enhancements and other status enhancements, have contributed to abhorrent racial disparities in this city's criminal justice system, resulted in excessive sentences, and have not made us any safer. The constitutionality of these stops has always been in question and it is time to end them," he said.
The new policy reforms were among many new, evidence-based public safety policies intended to reduce racial disparities in the city's criminal justice system. Their implementation makes the city the first country to implement such policy directives, Boudin's office said.
The San Francisco Police Association, however, blasted Boudin for the new policy reform.
In a statement, SFPOA President Tony Montoya said, "In his short tenure, Chesa Boudin has demonstrated that he is a clear and present danger to the law-abiding residents, businesses and visitors of San Francisco. Get pulled over and have an illegal handgun or AR-15? No problem, Boudin will throw out your case. Have 10 pounds of meth all in small plastic bags ready for sale? No problem, Boudin will throw your case out too. It's unconscionable that Boudin would let someone with an illegal gun go free, only to allow them the opportunity to arm themselves again. Chesa Boudin is emboldening criminals and we are all going to pay a steep price for his absurd policies."