Officers kill unarmed drivers and passengers at a rate of once a week in the United States. Officer training often advances a warrior mindset, instilling in officers fear of the public. As a result, traffic stops can devolve into officer-created jeopardy, where officers put themselves in dangerous situations and then use deadly force to defend against that danger. Given that MPD disproportionately targets Black people for stops and searches and a quarter of police killings of unarmed Black people occurred during traffic stops, the Council must limit officers’ authority to stop drivers.
MPD is tasked not only with handling drivers that pose a threat to public safety, but also with enforcing other regulations. Of the 70 possible infractions for which officers may stop drivers, most can be eliminated or shifted to the D.C. Department of Transportation’s purview, leaving officers to only handle those infractions that present an imminent threat to public safety. This is consistent with recommendations made by the D.C. Police Reform Commission and the Task Force on Jails and Justice.