Amid nationwide calls for police reform, Cambridge city officials are considering civilian traffic enforcement as a potential solution.
Two city councilors are asking the city manager to look at transferring routine traffic enforcement from the police department to unarmed city employees in other departments, like traffic and parking, health and human services or public works.
“In my opinion, the order runs afoul of Massachusetts’ General Law and shows a lack of forethought," Cambridge Police Commissioner Dr. Branville G. Bard, Jr said.
Traffic stops are never routine, a spokesman for the Cambridge Police Department added, and workers from the city’s Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department often need help from police with their day-to-day work, like writing parking tickets, because they face intimidation.
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The authors of the policy order say that traffic stops disproportionately impact Black and Brown drivers and armed police officers only make those situations more tense. Having city employees enforce traffic rules would reduce violence during these encounters, the order states.
The president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Brian Kyes warned that the proposal is dangerous, according to the Boston Herald.
The city is now looking to see whether Cambridge has legal authority to implement the measure. The City Council is set to take the issue up again later this summer.