Councilmen want police off traffic enforcement, end to ‘driving while black’

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Four Los Angeles City Councilmen today proposed to have Department of Transportation staffers or automated technology enforce traffic violations instead of armed police officers.

Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Mike Bonin, Curren Price and Herb Wesson proposed the city consider using LADOT staff or technology to enforce traffic laws such as speeding, illegal turns and other vehicle code violations.

“For years, police officers have used traffic enforcement as an excuse to harass and demean Black motorists while violating their rights,” Harris-Dawson said. “We do not need armed officials responding to and enforcing traffic violations. This practice is expensive, costing the city millions and far too many innocent people their lives.”

“Driving while Black or Latino should not be a crime, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a young person of color who has not had a negative interaction that began with an alleged traffic infraction,” Wesson said. “It’s common sense. We don’t need an armed response to a broken tail light or a traffic accident. This is a logical next step to reimagining public safety in Los Angeles.”

The councilmen said police departments nationwide have long used minor traffic infractions as a pretext for profiling people of color. Data have shown that Los Angeles police officers stop and search Black and Latino motorists far more often than whites, the councilmen said.

If the proposal is adopted, LADOT and other city staff would consult with community stakeholders and suggest alternative methods of enforcement that do not rely on armed officers.

It was not immediately clear which City Council committee would first hear the proposal.

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