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Pittsburgh police are again enforcing minor traffic violations

90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Pittsburgh police are enforcing minor traffic stops, which have disproportionately affected Black residents
(0:00 - 7:26)

Pittsburgh police resumed stopping motorists this month for minor traffic incidents, despite a 2021 city ordinance barring such stops in an effort to reduce racial profiling. According to Pittsburgh Police data, Black residents make up about 22% of the city’s population, but accounted for 42% of traffic stops in 2021.

Police leaders rescinded training around the ordinance, citing new state laws and low morale.

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh professor of law and WESA’s legal analyst, says the police bureau is still required to abide by city council’s ordinance.

“In Philadelphia, they created the very same ordinance before Pittsburgh did, and they did it with the cooperation of the police department in Philadelphia,” says Harris. “They [police] know that this is not a good deal for them because it erodes trust with the public.”

Harris says he also looked at a department in North Carolina, where loosened enforcement of traffic offenses allowed officers to focus on other priorities.

An American Lung Association report gave Pennsylvania poor grades on its tobacco control policies
(7:31 - 14:17)

The American Lung Association has been grading states on their tobacco control policies. This year, Pennsylvania was issued failing grades across three of the five assessed policy areas: For its tobacco prevention and cessation funding; stagnant tobacco taxes; and lack of restrictions for flavored tobacco products.

“As a result, we have higher adult smoking rates at 14.4% and 26.7% for high school students who are using tobacco products,” says Deborah Brown, chief mission officer with the American Lung Association. “The legislative process really has an opportunity here to improve the health of our state.”

Brown says states with comprehensive policies tend to have lower rates of tobacco use and better protections for people exposed to secondhand smoke.

Penguins have a long way to go if they plan to enter the playoffs
(14:26 - 22:30)

The NHL All Star Game is this Saturday in Florida, and the Penguins stumbled into the break with at best a disappointing and at worst an embarrassing home defeat Saturday to the lowly San Jose Sharks 6 to 4.

The Pens have lost three of their last four games, and won only five of their 17 contests.

“They've really struggled to establish any identity at that bottom six and get much support in terms of secondary scoring,” says Rob Rossi, senior writer at The Athletic. “They've also had a lot of injuries on the back end recently and that includes their goalie, Tristan Jarry, which has forced them into a goalie rotation of guys that really aren't up to his standard.”

Rossi says the team has largely relied on its top six to “carry the heaviest load,” but the team has made a number of mistakes this season. If the team is to make the playoffs for the 17th consecutive year, Rossi says there is little room for error in the final 33 games.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Christopher started listening to public radio shortly after he picked up the keys to that '98 Chevy Cavalier back in 2004. He no longer has that car (it's kind of a funny story), but he still listens to — and now has a hand in creating — public radio programming everyday.
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