The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a package of policy changes aimed at reforming policing in the city by reducing racial disparities in traffic enforcement.
“While Berkeley has a long history of progressive leadership, we are not immune from issues of systemic racism in policing and our criminal justice system,” Jesse Arreguín, mayor of the California city, told The Appeal.
Berkeley police will no longer be able to stop drivers for only minor traffic violations like equipment violations, expired vehicle registration, or not wearing a seatbelt. Instead, police will be directed to conduct traffic stops only for violations that endanger public safety, such as excessive speeding, running a red light or stop sign, and driving under the influence.
A person can still be cited for low-level offenses if they are pulled over for a public safety reason. For example, if a person is pulled over for speeding and they are driving with an expired registration, they will get ticketed for both, Arreguín said.
The Berkeley Police Association opposed the reforms, saying in a statement that they “will turn officers into filing clerks, gutting their much-needed time on the streets within our community.”
The policy package grew out of a working group Arreguín convened last yearon fair and impartial policing, which formed after the release of a 2018 study by the Center for Policing Equity. The study found that Black and Hispanic people were more than six times more likely than white people to be stopped by the Berkeley Police Department while driving and more than four times more likely to be stopped while walking.