The Berkeley City Council approved a measure that would create a new Department of Transportation and remove police from traffic stops. The use of unarmed public works officials to enforce traffic laws is aimed at reducing racial profiling and law enforcement contacts that can escalate into violence, especially for Black drivers.
The Berkeley City Council measure removing traffic from law enforcement is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is likely to be emulated as other cities adopt public safety reforms following the death of George Floyd in May.
Studies have shown Black motorists are much more likely to be stopped by police than whites for minor traffic infractions that turn fatal. For example, Philando Castile, 32, was shot and killed after he was pulled over for a busted tail light during a traffic stop in 2016 in Minnesota. Sandra Bland, 28, died in a jail cell three days after being stopped for failing to signal when changing lanes in Texas in 2015.