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Berkeley says no more traffic stops for minor offenses


The city of Berkeley, California, is implementing a series of sweeping police reforms in an effort to tackle racism in the criminal justice system, reports the Huffington Post.

On Tuesday night, the city council voted to end police traffic stops for low-level offenses, such as not wearing a seat belt or having an expired license. Police will also need written consent for vehicle searches, except under circumstances where consent is not legally required, and cops can no longer conduct warrantless searches of people on parole or probation. The city council also voted to fire officers found to have published racist content online.

The reforms follow protests against racist police violence across California and the country last summer.

“Berkeley is not immune from our nation’s reckoning with systemic racism,” the city’s mayor, Jesse Arreguín, said in a tweet celebrating the new reforms.

A report from the Center on Policing Equity in 2018 found that Black people were more than six times more likely than Whites to be stopped by Berkeley police while driving. Latinx drivers were twice as likely as Whites to be stopped. Black drivers were also searched by police four times more than Whites. The mayor expressed hope that “limiting unnecessary police stops” would allow law enforcement to focus its resources on more urgent matters, such as violent crime.”