Berkeley to consider removing police from traffic and parking enforcement

Berkeley - California, California, San Francisco - California, USA, UC Berkeley

The City of Berkeley on Monday announced the city council will consider a first-of-its-kind proposal next month to remove the police department from traffic and parking enforcement. 

The council will take up the proposal, introduced by councilmember Rigel Robinson on July 14. The legislation would shift traffic enforcement to unarmed civil servants employed by a newly created Department of Transportation. 

“Berkeley residents have made it clear that the current model of policing is not working for our city,” said Councilmember Robinson. “I’m grateful to have worked with policing and transportation advocates in our community to put forward this proposal, and I’m excited to continue the conversation on reimagining public safety and reducing the role of police in our lives — starting with the way we conduct enforcement on our streets.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Mayor Jesse Arreguin and at least two other councilmembers. 

In a news release, Berkeley city officials said 20 million motorists a year are pulled over by police, making for the most common interaction between civillians and police in America. They also noted the cases of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Rodney King all began as routine traffic stops, but that often times, these cases turn deadly. 

"Historically, the traffic stop is the most common and feared police stop for Black and brown residents, who fear they may be shot or arrested for accusations unrelated to the stop," Darrell Owens, of East Bay for Everyone, said in a statement. "As we've proven with parking enforcement, giving motorists tickets and moving on does not require a gun or a police officer."