Berkeley, California Voted To End Low-Level Offense Traffic Stops


The Berkeley, California city council voted to put an end to low-level offense traffic stops as part of a larger push for addressing racism and discriminatory policies within the criminal justice system.  

The decision came in on Tuesday night (February 23), during a council meeting, and comes after months of protests last year, calling for police reform, as reported by The Huffington Post.

As part of the decision, offenses like, driving with an expired license or not wearing a seatbelt will not be enough to warrant police officers to stop a motorist.

Additionally, police officers will be required to get consent in writing to search vehicles, except for when consent is not legally required. Officers will also have to stop searches of people on probation or parole without warrant. A new policy to fire officers who post racist content online was also a part of the reforms passed. 

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín hopes that these measures will “ [limit] unnecessary police stops” allow law enforcement officials to draw their attention and resources on other things. 

“Berkeley is not immune from our nation’s reckoning with systemic racism,” the mayor tweeted after the measures were passed.

The measures also respond to data released in a 2018 report by the Center on Policing Equity which found that Black people in Berkeley were more than six times more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers. Black drivers in Berkeley were also subjected to more searches than other groups. These trends are also seen nationwide and have led to fatal police-involved shootings, like that of Philando Castile in 2016

More criminal justice reforms have been put in place in other cities and states, as the nation responds to the calls amplified in last year’s protests and ongoing movement for civil rights. 

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