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The Road to Removing Police From Traffic Enforcement

After the killing of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, a legal expert and historian explains how design, decriminalization and disarming police could lead to safer streets.

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Lawmakers Push for Change in How Police Conduct Traffic Stops
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On Sunday afternoon, Daunte Wright was pulled over for having expired registration tags in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. When police approached his vehicle, officers also noticed an item hanging on his rear-view mirror — an air-freshener — which is illegal in Minnesota. A few minutes later, Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was dead, shot by white police officer Kim Potter. According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, Potter had meant to deploy her Taser. Both Potter and Gannon resigned on Tuesday, and Potter now faces second-degree manslaughter charges

Traffic stops — the most common interaction between police and the public — disproportionately affect Black people. The incident, which bears a resemblance to several other high-profile police killings of Black people in recent years, has sparked several nights of protests in the Minneapolis region and rekindled demands from lawmakersactivists and legal scholars to remove traffic enforcement from other police duties in U.S. cities.