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Los Angeles City Hall (Photo: Evan Symon for the California Globe)

Los Angeles City Council Proposes Limiting Traffic Stops For Law Enforcement

Council instead wants unarmed employees to issue minor infractions to drivers

By Evan Symon, June 14, 2024 2:35 am

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 on Wednesday to begin a study into if the city can limit the LAPD into halting “pretextual” traffic stops, if a new unarmed agency can conduct traffic stops for minor infractions such as expired tags, and limiting fines in poorer communities.

Debate over traffic enforcement laws have become a hot button topic since the George Floyd incident and subsequent protests 4 years ago. Cities such as Los Angeles have continuously received calls to limit the practice, as they have claimed a racial disparity. They have cited studies, such as a 2022 report that found the black people in California accounted for 13% of all traffic stops despite being just 5% of the population, that have shown such disparity. However, law enforcement officials have said that minor infraction stops often have led to more major drug and weapons charges, which otherwise may have gone unnoticed if not for the infraction.

At the state level, attempts have been made to try and limit police from issuing low level violations. SB 50, which was introduced last year, attempted to  limit pulling over drivers for infractions involving license plates and registrations, but it fizzled out before reaching an Assembly vote because of increased state opposition. With the state not passing such laws, city pressure increased this year, including in Los Angeles. In 2022, the LAPD had a few restrictions on traffic stops be put on them, with police needing to state the reason for such a stop, with the Department quickly adjusting to the new rules.

This led to the City Council’s decision on Wednesday. According to the proposal, the City Council will give several Departments 90 days to come back with feasibility reports on limiting pulling over drivers for minor infractions, and having those be handled by an agency that has non-armed employees give them out. n all, the reports will include the feasibility of creating unarmed civilian teams to respond to certain traffic issues, if limiting fines in poorer communities is possible, and ending police stops for most minor traffic infractions.

“Implementing unarmed traffic response leads to reductions in violent incidents and increases trust in public institutions,” said Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez.

Response to the proposal

LAPD Chief Dominic Choi responded to the vote on Thursday, noting that “Our job is public safety, and we’re going to use the tools that are given to us in the best way we can to improve public safety. So if restrictions are put on us, I’m going to visit roll calls, and I’ll talk about this policy change or this law and encourage our officers.”

“If done properly, they are valuable tools. If done improperly, it jeopardizes public trust, and I’m against that part of it. I support the idea that fewer stops make intervention more successful. Since restrictions were implemented in 2022, officers have been finding more illegal guns while making fewer stops. Last year, we had one of the highest years in number of guns that were recovered and arrested, so I would say no., That policy has not thwarted that effort.”

Council members also ignored the positives of such stops, with Councilwoman Marqueece Harris-Dawson saying, “I know the amount of people that they catch – burglars and many other things through traffic stops. That doesn’t make it a just or rational policy. I think the city of Los Angeles can lead the nation in these changes.”

However, citizen groups and law enforcement officials have remained adamant against any more limitations, noting that crime would likely rise as traffic stops preempt so many crimes from taking place and that many wanted people are arrested this way.

“Those 90 day studies are going to reveal the uncomfortable truth, to them, that traffic stops help stop crime and detect crimes early on,” law enforcement research Damon Lee told the Globe on Thursday. “Even the U.S. Justice Department says so. The L.A. City Council is probably patting themselves on the back right now, but they are playing with fire. Some traffic stops have armed criminals inside. How is some unarmed employee going to get past that? How many will be shot and killed because they don’t have the instincts of a cop.”

“The L.A. City Council is trying to play fast and loose with laws and lives right now. That is extremely worrying. Hopefully these departments are rational and that, in September, the City Council will get a dose of reality in finding just how bad an idea this is.”

Feasibility reports from the Departments are expected to come out by September.

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8 thoughts on “Los Angeles City Council Proposes Limiting Traffic Stops For Law Enforcement

  1. Well, isn’t this good news for the burgeoning population of criminals. Criminals will be able to drive anywhere knowing there will be no mechanism to detect them. And I’m so sick of newspapers invoking George Floyd as a poster child for police abuse. Floyd was a criminal thug who resisted arrest while high on illegal drugs.

  2. Just let everyone do what they want and how they want. Why is the “man” always trying to keep the disadvantaged down? We know they in the poorer communities aren’t capable of following societies protocols because those were constructed by white privilege; “those” people know how to better live. Why pay for automobile tags? the car works just fine without them; and why fine the people of the disadvantaged neighborhoods at the same rate as whitey. Crimes in low income neighborhoods are crimes of necessity, so penalties should be lower.

  3. Choi is a puppet, reference his interview with John Kobylt on KFI. This is the same backa**wards, nonsensical logic that is being applied to the illegal, racist college admissions issue as well. Not enforcing the rules of society because of disproportionate dogma begs the question of why. As in why are a disproportionate race of the population not complying. Maybe we should start there and help by helping the downtrodden come more fully into compliance with the rules, not bypassing and ignoring the rules the rest of society is expected to follow. Same as asking why certain races are underperforming in college admissions. You don’t’solve’ the problem by enacting racist admissions policies, you solve the ‘problem’ by better educating the underperforming races so they do better on the tests……….

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