In what is being touted as a first in the nation proposal, the City of Berkeley, California has proposed ending police traffic enforcement. The effects of such a radical shift in policing could be massive.
The move comes after claims that police officers all too often escalate minor traffic stops into deadly situations. These claims are well founded.
“Most traffic stops don’t really warrant a police officer,” said Darrell Owens, the co-executive of East Bay for Everyone, a housing and traffic non-profit. He helped pitch the new, one-year plan to Berkeley City Council. According to ABC 7, he says ideally the city would take money away from Berkeley PD to fund a new department.
“A minor traffic violation should not have resulted in the murder of a black or brown body, but at the same time we can also re-examine the nature of punitive law enforcement and broken windows policing that makes traffic enforcement so deadly to begin with.”
The officials who proposed ending police traffic enforcement dispelled any preconceived notions that this would allow dangerous criminals and drunks to rule the roads.
“We don’t want to inhibit apprehending dangerous criminals or drunk drivers. That is not the intent,” said Berkeley City councilmember, Lori Droste.
Though it is a step in the right direction, because government relies on revenue generated from traffic stops to fund itself, this proposal stops short of actually ending the practice of extorting citizens.