In the Democrats’ rush to either defund or abolish the police around the country, one uniquely bad and dangerous idea seems to have taken hold in a growing number of places. Viewing police officers as some sort of risk to public safety, municipal officials have begun looking for responsibilities normally handled by the cops that could be turned over to unarmed civilians. One favorite choice is turning out to be traffic enforcement. These social justice monitors would presumably be less likely to assault or racially stereotype motorists or something. The latest community to explore this insane plan is Cambridge, Massachusetts. Some members of the City Council have introduced a proposal to have unarmed city workers take care of traffic duties. (CBS Boston)
Two Cambridge city councilors are proposing letting city workers take over primary traffic enforcement duties from the police department. The policy order sponsored by Councilors Quinton Zondervan and Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler says unarmed city employees should make traffic stops, “which would reduce the possibility of violence during such encounters.”
The proposal states that Black and brown drivers are pulled over and searched more often than white drivers – a “racist outcome” that is the result of systemic biases.
“The presence of an armed police officer during a routine traffic stop raises the tension of the encounter unnecessarily and can itself lead to conflict, causing harmful stress to both parties and damaging the relationship between police and the community,” the policy order states.
I guess Cambridge may have gotten this idea from Berkeley, California who already began working on a similar plan. As we discussed when that proposal was first unveiled, a scheme like this is simply a disaster waiting to happen. It’s conceivable that, with some rigorous training, a civilian municipal employee with a flashing light stuck on the roof of their car could pull over a compliant motorist and issue either a ticket or a warning for traffic violations. And that’s the way the majority of traffic stops end, thankfully.
But not all of them. Every time a police officer pulls over a car, they first run the plates and let the dispatcher know they are preparing to engage with someone. Upon getting out of the cruiser, traffic cops unclasp their holster, freeing up their service weapon in case it’s needed on a second’s notice. And they do that for a reason. You never know who is in the car you just pulled over, what their mental state may be or if they are armed and ready to freak out.
The Cambridge City Council members claim to have already taken these realities into consideration. They insist that regular police officers will still be tasked with “apprehending known criminals, dangerous or erratic drivers, and other related situations that clearly go beyond routine traffic enforcement.”
But as the Cambridge Police Commissioner quickly pointed out, there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop. When you run the plates of a car that just blew through a stop sign and find that the car belongs to kindly old Mr. Simpson, a widower with no points on his license, you may be justified in relaxing a bit. He’s not likely to start any trouble. But what if the guy behind the wheel turns out to be Ronny “Double Tap” Washington, who just carjacked Mr. Simpson five minutes ago but the crime hasn’t been reported yet? And what if good old Ronny is still holding his Glock-17 in his lap and knows that if he gets busted again today he’ll be doing at least twenty years in the Big House?
When your unarmed municipal worker gets up to the driver’s side door of the vehicle holding a pad of speeding tickets, they may be in for a violent and perhaps terminal surprise. When the gun barrel is leveled at them, I somehow doubt Ronny will be in the mood to be asked if he wouldn’t mind remaining in his vehicle while a real police officer is summoned to handle the situation.
What we’re seeing in Cambridge is yet another example of critical decisions about the functions of law enforcement being made by people who clearly have absolutely no idea how policing actually works. And somebody is going to wind up paying the price for that. Let’s hope they don’t pay with their lives.