Law & the Courts

Minneapolis Police to End Traffic Stops for ‘Lesser Violations’ to Conserve Resources

(welcomia/Getty Images)

Police officers in Minneapolis no longer will conduct “pretextual” traffic stops for low-level offenses, Mayor Jacob Frey announced Friday.

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo “have finalized another series of reforms in ongoing efforts to create a more just and accountable system of community safety,” according to a news release. 

“Effective today, Minneapolis Police Officers will no longer be conducting pretextual stops for offenses like expired tabs, an item dangling from a mirror, or an expired license,” the release said.

The announcement came after Arradondo previously told officers in an internal memo that the policy change was being made to recognize “the continued importance” of how the department can “better utilize time, resources and operational effectiveness,” according to the Star Tribune. 

Arradondo’s memo said the city attorney’s office would no longer issue tickets for driving after suspension if the driver was unable to pay a fine or fees or if there was no accident or erratic driving that “would impact public safety,” according to the report.

In June, Portland, Ore., similarly announced it would no longer conduct minor traffic stops “in the name of racial justice.”

The mayor’s announcement came as part of his 2022 budget proposal, which includes funding to hire more staff in the city attorney’s office for reviewing police disciplinary investigations and a full-time analyst for body-camera footage.

The budget allots money for five recruit classes for MPD with a focus on “community-oriented officers,” as well as $7.8 million for the Office of Violence Prevention. It also includes investments in youth recreation and programming — including $500,000 for youth-specific violence prevention— and another $500,000 “for a state-of-the-art early intervention system to ensure supervisors and department leadership have access to real-time data to help inform when an officer may need additional support or are no longer fit to serve.”

The news comes after a judge ordered the city to hire more police officers last month after the council had previously unanimously voted to “defund” the department, though it ultimately only reduced the operating budget.

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