Some Minneapolis City Council members are renewing efforts to explore whether the city can create an unarmed traffic safety division, weeks after a Brooklyn Center police officer killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
Supporters described their latest efforts as an extension of work already underway to determine which types of police calls could be handled by civilians as the city seeks to transform public safety in the wake of George Floyd's death.
"Traffic safety is one of the most pressing issues facing areas that are majority BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color]," Council Member Phillipe Cunningham said during a public meeting last month. "Our communities make up the vast majority of traffic accidents, serious injuries and deaths."
A measure written by Cunningham would ask city staff members to develop recommendations for creating an unarmed traffic safety division that would operate outside the Police Department. The division would "be responsible for enforcement, education, and other activities that increase traffic safety."
Cunningham's measure would ask the staff to create recommendations and budget estimates and provide an update on their progress by the end of June.
The council's Public Health & Safety Committee endorsed the request in a meeting Wednesday, and it heads to the full council for consideration.
After they receive recommendations, council members would need to pass additional measures to create and fund a new division.
Minnesota state laws are likely to limit the city's efforts. In a 2020 memo, the City Attorney's Office noted that state law says some actions can be taken only by licensed peace officers. It mentioned, as examples, responding to DWI cases where a chemical test for intoxication is required, responding to the scene of an accident, and stopping a vehicle and requiring someone to provide documentation.
Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994