Berkeley Moves Toward Removing Police from Traffic Stops, Replacing with Unarmed Civilians


The city of Berkeley, California, moved forward Wednesday with a proposal to eliminate police from conducting traffic stops and instead use unarmed civilian city workers as part of a broad overhaul of law enforcement.

The City Council also set a goal of cutting the police budget by 50 percent.

The council approved the plan during a nine-hour virtual meeting that ended at 3 a.m., the East Bay Times reported.

The vote calls on the city manager to convene a “community engagement process” to pursue the creation of a separate department to handle transportation projects as well as enforcement of parking and traffic.

“For far too long public safety has been equated with more police,” said Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

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It’s believed the plan to separate traffic from law enforcement is the first of its kind in the U.S.

It comes as many cities attempt broad public safety reforms following the death of George Floyd, whose neck was knelt on for nearly nine minutes by a Minneapolis police officer during an arrest in May.

The reform plan also seeks to remove armed officers from homeless services and mental health and crisis management, the East Bay Times reported.

Furthermore, it would establish a community safety coalition and steering committee, and initiate an analysis of police calls and responses.

Would you feel unsafe visiting Berkeley under if this proposal is enacted?

Details are to be determined by the city manager and auditor.

The Berkeley Police Department, meanwhile, said Monday it does not comment on council legislation.

In a joint statement, the police unions for Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco said that reckless driving, speeding, driving while under the influence are all dangerous “traffic” enforcement violations.

“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,” the statement added.

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“What happens when the felon with an illegal gun gets pulled over by the parking police? Nothing good, we’re sure of that.”

The city council in the largely affluent and progressive San Francisco suburb of 120,000 voted last year to replace gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms.

For example, the word “maintenance hole” replaced “manhole,” and “workforce” replaced “manpower.”

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