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Minneapolis to create unarmed traffic enforcement division

It wouldn't be part of the police department.
Minneapolis City Hall

The City of Minneapolis is working on a major change to at least one area of policing: traffic. 

On Friday morning, the City Council unanimously passed a "staff direction" that mobilizes the Office of Performance and Innovation to "design and develop recommendations for the creation of an unarmed Traffic Safety Division," according to city documents. 

Such a division would be "housed in a department outside of the Police Department," the proposal says. 

It calls for collaboration with multiple city departments to launch the new service, along with input from the community — with a focus on "Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voices and residents disproportionately impacted by unsafe driving behaviors."

The author of the proposal, city councilperson Philipe Cunningham, lays out four goals for a new traffic division:

1. Maximize the traffic safety benefits of traffic enforcement 

2. Eliminate racial disparities in traffic enforcement 

3. Educate the public on safe driving behaviors and traffic laws 

4. Earn the trust of communities who have been harmed by previous traffic enforcement practices

Cunningham shared news of Friday's vote on Facebook, saying the issue of traffic safety in Minneapolis "is very complex, but it is surmountable":

As Cunningham notes, he and others have been working on "reestablishing and reimagining traffic enforcement" for years, adding that the efforts were "put on the backburner due to COVID-19 then all of the fallout from the death of George Floyd."

"There is no simple answer, but we can and will get this work done."

The proposal, which you can read in full right here, says the Office of Performance and Innovation will "report back to the Public Health & Safety Committee with a project timeline by the end of Quarter 2, 2021."

Cunningham represents the city's 4th Ward, which covers a swath northwest Minneapolis. 

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