Cities across the country have been reconsidering the structure of police enforcement in the wake of George Floyd protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Berkeley, California, became one of the first cities in the nation to propose taking steps towards shifting traffic safety and rules away from police departments and over to an unarmed civilian authority.
The legislation authored by Berkeley City Council member Rigel Robinson on July 14 is entitled “BerkDOT: Reimagining Transportation for a Racially Just Future.”
It proposes the formation of a new city Department of Transportation. The DOT would be responsible for traffic stops, ticketing, and parking enforcement, all previously carried out by the police department.
Robinson states in his proposal “A serious discussion of the role of modern policing, and the harm it has disproportionately inflicted on Black communities, is incomplete without a focus on traffic enforcement.”
Robinson’s proposal has gained support from leaders across the Berkeley community.
Vice Chair of Berkeley Transportation Commission, Terry Taplin, states ” Although I cannot speak on behalf of the Transportation Commission, I can say that as a proud Berkeley resident, I am pleased to see this legislation move forward. Berkeley streets must be safe for all of our community members to achieve true public safety. Establishing a Berkeley Department of Transportation that would tackle traffic enforcement minimizes the risk of biased profiling and escalation. This legislation is a critical step in reimagining and restructuring how the City of Berkeley conducts law.”
Berkeley passed their budget for the 2021 fiscal year on June 30, cutting the Berkeley Police Department’s funds by $9.045 million.
Truck drivers have been voicing their concerns about the effects defunded police departments could have on their already dangerous jobs. A recent CDLLife poll indicated that truckers were reluctant to deliver to cities with these “defunded” police departments.
As more and more cities announce cutting or redirecting police department funds, California is the first of it’s kind with this idea.
Los Angeles City Council members have also approved the first step of a similar proposal, replacing L.A. Police Officers with “community-based, unarmed emergency responders.”