The death of Daunte Wright at the hands of police in Minnesota is reenergizing the push to defund police in Oakland and it’s raising a key question about traffic stops.
Police reform advocates say most traffic stops should be handled by unarmed Department of Transportation employees instead of police, and that’s just one of the recommendations brought forth to several Oakland city councilmembers Tuesday.
“I am filled with both grief, anger, frustration,” said Warren Logan, Policy Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations for the City of Oakland.
A wound that never healed after the death of George Floyd reopened on Sunday, following the police shooting of Wright in a city just north of Minneapolis. The chain of events that led to the death of the 20-year-old Black father began with a traffic stop.
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NBC News reports Wright was driving a car with expired license plates and he also broke a Minnesota law that bans drivers from hanging items from their rearview mirrors. Logan said Wright’s death is proof that Oakland needs to re-evaluate traffic safety.
“We’re advancing so many different initiatives to try and decouple policing and police officers from traffic enforcement,” he said.
He’s talking about moving most traffic enforcement out of the Oakland Police Department and into Oakland’s Department of Transportation (OakDOT). A recommendation that was also brought up during today’s Public Safety Committee.
“I especially want to lift up ATP’s recommendation to get police out of traffic enforcement and safety in memory of Daunte Wright,” said Oakland resident Elaina.
Oakland’s Reimaging Public Safety Task Force is recommending:
- That OakDOT handle most traffic enforcement by creating a civilian task force unit
- Eliminating pretextual traffic violation stops
- Changing most traffic violations to infractions
Police would still handle drivers with outstanding warrants and those posing an immediate safety threat, like suspected drunk drivers. The full city council will take up the recommendations next month.