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LA (Finally) Will Explore Alternatives To Armed Police In Traffic Enforcement

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Police reform organizations are applauding today's passage of an L.A. City Council motion that calls for coming up with ways to remove armed cops from enforcement of traffic laws.

The measure calls for, among other things, the city to hire a consultant to conduct a study that will examine the feasibility of setting up civilian enforcement of traffic laws “for motorists, cyclists, and other forms of transportation.”

Black Lives Matter L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah said reforms around transportation policy like this one are “hugely important,” adding that traffic stops are a major factor in the deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.

“We want to remove police from many spaces, but beginning with spaces where they’re absolutely unneeded,” she said. Abdullah cited the death of Dijon Kizzee, who was shot more than a dozen times last August by Sheriff’s deputies after they had tried to stop him for allegedly committing a traffic violation while riding a bicycle.

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Two weeks before Kizzee’s killing, a Pasadena police officer fatally shot Anthony McClain as he ran away from a traffic stop.

A 2020 report by the Los Angeles Police Commission’s inspector general found racial disparities in both the frequency of police traffic stops and post-stop activity.

Of 672,569 officer-initiated stops in 2019, the study found that 27% of the people stopped were perceived to be Black, in a city where Black people represent just 9% of the population.

The motion passed today was originally introduced last June, as officials in L.A. responded to calls for reform following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

But the measure stalled, which led to a Feb. 2 letter signed by the ACLU of Southern California, Black Lives Matter L.A. and other groups saying they were “beyond frustrated by the Council’s inaction.”

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