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Berkeley City Council Considers Relieving Police From Traffic Stop Duties

Unarmed public works officials could replace Berkeley Police officers in monitoring minor traffic violations pending approval of a proposal to be considered by the Berkeley City Council.
July 14, 2020, 12pm PDT | Lee Flannery
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Police Enfocement

Berkeley City Council is set to consider a proposal to shift responsibility for conducting traffic stops away from the Berkeley Police Department and to unarmed public works officials. If adopted, the change will be implemented in next year's fiscal budget which also includes a $9.2 cut to the Police Department's budget, reports Kellen Browning.

Traffic stops are residents' most frequent contact with police in the United States, and Black and Hispanic drivers have historically been stopped disproportionately than whites due to racial profiling and bias. Central Connecticut State University researcher Ken Barone says that police often use stops for minor traffic offenses as justification for car searches. "Supporters of the plan point to the cases of several high-profile deaths of Black people after traffic stops, including Philando Castile, who was pulled over for a broken brake light, and Sandra Bland, who failed to signal a lane change," writes Browning.

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Published on Thursday, July 9, 2020 in The New York Times
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