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Morning Briefing: Do We Really Need Armed Police Doing Traffic Stops?

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The Los Angeles Police Department headquarters is located in downtown LA. Andrew Cullen for LAist Andrew Cullen/Andrew Cullen for LAist
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Good morning, L.A.

In our city, armed police officers are in charge of keeping our roads safe — everything from broken tail lights to speeding to our infamous car chases. But in a new investigation, LAist’s Ryan Fonseca examines whether we really need gun-toting cops to enforce traffic safety.

“There is mounting evidence,” he writes, that alternate strategies such as street improvements, education and automated ticketing “can make notable progress in reducing death and injury on the road.”

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Plenty of research and thought has already gone into this possibility, well before the recent outcry among activists for police funding to be rerouted. Genevieve Carpio, an assistant professor of Chicana/o studies at UCLA, advocates a rethinking of how society views so-called traffic violations.

"Part of what we need to do is move from seeing things like expired tags or broken tail lights from criminal issues to economic issues," she said.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the U.S.-based nonprofit Vision Zero Network, added that the streets themselves in many disadvantaged communities are in need of safety upgrades.

"They've got the high-speed arterial roads, fast moving traffic, freeway touchdown, a lack of good sidewalks and bike lanes for people,” she said. “We need to be shifting resources and funding and priorities from 'police, police police' to invest in the streets, invest in the communities themselves, to be safe places from the start."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, September 25

The Esotouric tour company has been leading bus tours of L.A. history since 2007. The pandemic forced them to close, but now they're bringing their expertise online, beginning with a talk on the Bradbury Building. Mike Roe has the story.

Guest contributor Eric Daza writes about his journey from blending in and biting his tongue when encountering casual racism to embracing his own Brown-ness -- and with that, calling out racism and embracing anti-racism.

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Erick Galindo reports on Picturing Mexican America, a social media feed started by a UCLA professor that aims to reveal the hidden and often erased history of Mexicans in long-ago Southern California.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

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Policing The Police: As the movement to defund armed policing and reinvest that money into care-based programs gains momentum, we explore the systemic racism and political shortfalls that have plagued traffic safety in L.A. to understand how things could change.

Wildfires: The Bobcat Fire has burned 113,986 acres of the Angeles National Forest and is at 50% containment.

All Angelenos Count: A diverse group of Black and Latina/o public school families have filed a lawsuit against LAUSD, claiming the district’s plans for distance learning violate students’ right to a basic public education. Federal census enumerators have this week been working to tally an estimated 66,000-plus unhoused residents of L.A. County for the 2020 Census.

Election 2020: Starting Oct. 30, the Dodgers are opening the gates to the stadium’s top deck for voters who want to cast their ballots with a view of the diamond. Libby Denkmann hosts a short video that provides five tips on how to vote in this election.


Photo Of The Day

"I ... pulled ... up to a house about 7 or 8 ... " To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a cab re-enacted the series' legendary opening credits in front of the original Banks family house.

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(Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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