Berkeley considers removing police from traffic, parking enforcement

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — A new progressive proposal in Berkeley could ban police from enforcing traffic stops.

The move being considered by city government would instead create an unarmed civilian division to handle the job.

“You don’t need the calvary to write a ticket.”

Co-sponsor of the proposal Councilmember Ben Bartlett would like to see changes to public safety in his city.

Barlett believes a new Department of Transportation would be better suited than police to take care of broken tail lights, fender benders and the like.

“It’s like calling a fire department to blow out a match it’s not necessary.”

Some transportation advocates have been taking a more serious tone.

“What we’re trying to do is prevent an escalation of any minor traffic violation into that community member being killed by police.”

Barnali Ghosh with Walk Bike Berkeley says a new department made of up traffic experts would go beyond what armed police officers can do — especially when the driver is a person of color.

“When you’re getting pulled over for a broken tail light then that’s the only thing you’re getting pulled over for and it doesn’t give police free reign to search your car for example.”

Some Berkeley residents did express some issues with how this might work.

“I’m concerned that perhaps someone who is not armed might make a traffic stop and encounter someone with a gun or might encounter someone who is drunk or on drugs who acts violently.”

However, others are fully onboard with this new idea.

“Hopefully it would cause fewer altercations centering on people of color.”

Councilmember Bartlett says the move would not only be socially but fiscally smart for the city, and the ball needs to get rolling.

“It has to happen now because no matter who you are you deserve to feel safe in your community.”

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