The Berkeley (CA) City Council will consider a proposal next week to prohibit the city’s police officers from conducting traffic stops and shift that responsibility to unarmed public works officials.
“If we’re serious about transforming the country’s relationship with police, we have to start by taking on Americans’ most common interaction with law enforcement — traffic stops,” said Rigel Robinson, a Berkeley councilman who proposed the legislation that aims to de-escalate roadside situations. “Driving while Black shouldn’t be a crime.”
Mr. Robinson’s proposal, which is co-sponsored by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and two other council members, would create a city department of transportation with unarmed public works officials who would conduct parking enforcement and stop cars for violations such as blowing through a stop sign or driving without headlights. It’s set to be considered at a July 14 council meeting, the New York Times reports.
If passed, the legislation would direct city staff to start examining the particulars of the pilot project, with a goal of implementing the change through the next fiscal year’s budget. Berkeley residents wouldn’t see a difference on the roads until next summer at the very earliest, Mr. Robinson said.
Proponents of the legislation acknowledge there will still be a role for police officers on Berkeley streets, like if an unarmed official conducting a traffic stop is confronted by a violent person with a weapon.