The city council of Berkeley, California just announced that they have approved a measure that will stop police officers from performing traffic stops. Instead, the city will authorize civilian city workers to stop motorists for traffic infractions.
Introduced by council member Rigel Robinson, this traffic stop proposal’s goal is to “ensure a racial justice lens in traffic enforcement” and find ways to reduce or eliminate “pretextual stops based on minor traffic violations,” according to Berkeleyside.com.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin approved of the measure, which he said will not go into effect overnight, adding that he hopes it will alleviate fears among people of color who have felt targeted by cops.
“For far too long public safety has been equated with more police,” Arreguin said, according to Fox News. He later added, “There may be situations where police do need to intervene, and so we need to look at all that.”
The measure was approved in a near-unanimous vote after a meeting that lasted over nine hours. Though the council members were huge fans of the proposal, it has been widely panned by law enforcement experts, who say it could be dangerous.
“I think what Berkeley is doing is nuts,” said Mark Cronin, a union director with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, according to the Associated Press. “I think it’s a big social experiment. I think it’s going to fail and it’s not going to take long for, unfortunately, traffic collisions, fatalities to increase exponentially.”
The Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose police unions released a joint statement in which they pointed out that reckless driving, speeding, and driving while under the influence are three examples of traffic stops that could take dangerous turns.
“We do not believe that the public wants lax enforcement of those incidents by non-sworn individuals,” the unions said. “Traffic stops are some of the most dangerous actions police officers take. What happens when the felon with an illegal gun gets pulled over by the parking police? Nothing good, we’re sure of that.”
Though many cities across the country have been making moves to redirect police funding in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Berkeley is believed to be the first city that has gone this far.