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Minneapolis plans to end police stops for certain minor traffic violations

Protestors who flooded Minneapolis streets last year and community activists have argued these same low-level traffic stops disproportionately affect minorities.

Minneapolis Police Department Getty Images

The Minneapolis Police Department is making some new policy changes.

According to The Associated Press, officers will no longer stop drivers for minor traffic violations, such as expired plates or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors. In a memo, obtained by the Star Tribune, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo said the department is making the changes after looking into how officers can better use time and resources.

MPD will no longer be conducting traffic stops solely for these offenses: expired tabs, an item dangling from a mirror, or not having a working license plate light,” Arradondo wrote in the memo.

Protestors who flooded Minneapolis streets last year and community activists have argued these same low-level traffic stops disproportionately affect minorities. The demands for both change and justice have gotten louder since the deaths of Philando Castile and Daunte Wright, who were fatally shot by police during traffic stops. Chief Arrandondo pledged to make major changes within the department following the death of George Floyd. With the City’s Attorney’s Office and Mayor Jacob Frey seemingly on the same page, policing for citizens in Minneapolis should look very differently.

Minneapolis Attorney Jim Rowader issued a statement emphasizing the city’s commitment to “addressing the racial inequalities in traffic stops while not compromising public safety.”

“The City Attorney’s Office recommended these changes to the mayor and chief after a very thorough and thoughtful analysis,” Rowader wrote. “While expired tabs will no longer be the primary reason for a traffic stop, this offense will still be enforced in other ways. Whenever a vehicle with expired tabs is stopped for speeding, red light running or any other public safety reason, the expired tabs charge can and should be added to the citation. The City’s Traffic Control agents will also continue to enforce expired tabs on parked vehicles as part of their work…These new policies are just one small step in addressing the disparities around traffic stops while freeing up resources to focus on offenses that have a direct impact [on] public safety.”

Mayor Frey took to Twitter to share his own update, mentioning his administration has been working with the department on reform for traffic enforcement.

“Another concrete change moving us in the right direction,” Frey tweeted. “To be clear, it’s against the law to have expired tabs, you can still get a ticket for expired tabs for instance if you’re parked — and it’s noted your tabs aren’t up-to-date — the only difference, and it’s an important one, is that you wouldn’t get pulled over for those infractions as a primary reason. I think this is the right direction to go.”

The sweeping changes arrive nearly four months after the Department of Justice announced it launched an investigation into the City of Minneapolis and its police department.

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