LA City Council

Could Routine Traffic Stops Be Conducted Without Armed Police Officers?

"I've had a gun pointed at me five times in my life," Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said. "Four times were police officers. Once was a person trying to rob me."

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A Los Angeles politician wants armed police to stop handling traffic infractions like busted tail lights and expired tags, an idea borne of street protests and personal experience!

The LA city councilmember who wants Los Angeles police removed from most traffic stops recalls being pulled over several times behind the wheel.

"I've had a gun pointed at me five times in my life," Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said. "Four times were police officers. Once was a person trying to rob me."

“In the case that it was police officers, you literally fear for your life over a rolling stop or changing lanes without signaling," Harris-Dawson said.

Harris-Dawson's proposal to have traffic stops handled by the Department of Transportation and not police moved forward Tuesday at LA's virtual council meeting.

“...To rely on alternative models and methods that do not rely on armed law enforcement to achieve transportation policy objectives,” councilmember Mike Bonin said about the proposal.

Harris-Dawson said he believes minorities and women are all too often targeted for traffic stops by police. He credits the Black Live Matter movement with energizing his radical idea.

“With everything confronting the city, the pandemic and the recent social movement we have. A proposal like this might not have been taken seriously. But now I think all my colleagues are taking a hard look at it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t pushback.”

Councilmembers Harris- Dawson, Bonin, Curren Price and Herb Wesson say they’re tackling the problem of police stopping motorists for "driving while black."

Next up, committees will hear from analysts, the Department of Transportation and the LAPD, with Harris-Dawson hoping for solid recommendations in a few weeks.

Harris-Dawson said, “We need to give police the resources they need to actually find the folks that are dangerous to help prevent violent crime. But stopping hundreds of thousands of people simply because they’re in a car and they’re Black is not the way."

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