MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since Philando Castile was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer, statistics show the state’s largest police departments are making fewer traffic stops.
More than three weeks have passed since Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath of that shooting live on Facebook. Since then, the video has been viewed by millions of people around the world.
In the days we examined, WCCO found Minneapolis police made nearly 40 percent fewer traffic stops. In St. Paul, there’s been nearly an 80 percent dip.
But, one expert says it’s likely not so much about backlash and fear but more about priorities and resources.
In the 23 days that have passed since the Castile video went viral, WCCO found fewer Minneapolis and St. Paul police pulling drivers over.
In the two weeks before Castile was shot and killed St. Paul police made 1,091 traffic stops. In the two weeks after, that number dropped to 239.
As a former police officer and law enforcement educator, Mylan Masson explains how traffic stops aren’t considered high priority calls. Incidents like protests on interstates and city streets are. They’ll always take precedence and she says a lot of police resources.
“It’s a dramatic drop but there’s probably reasons for it,” Masson said.
In Minneapolis, WCCO found in the two weeks before Castile’s death police made 1,182 traffic stops. Down to 746 in the two weeks after.
Masson points to officer safety as another reason for the slide. Many Minnesota departments have made changes after officers have been ambushed elsewhere.
“Now you’re doubled up on a squad so now there are two people in a squad, and now you don’t have the availability of another squad doing traffic stops,” Masson said.
Masson says traffic stops are important to keep neighborhoods safe and can often help find people guilty of more serious crimes but says bottom line, no police officer will allow someone to break the law if they see it.
“They’re still going to do their job no matter what. They’re still going to do their job,” she said.
St. Paul police told us they wanted more time to analyze the numbers before commenting. Meanwhile, Minneapolis told us the decline is complex and there are multiple factors from fewer resources to more foot beats and community engagement. We also requested the same traffic stop information from St. Anthony police and are still waiting to hear back.