FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local law professor is arguing to remove police from traffic enforcement.
In a new study to be published in the Stanford Law Review, University of Arkansas law professor Jordan Blair Woods outlines a new legal framework for traffic enforcement, which would separate it from “critical police functions,” such as preventing and deterring crime, conducting criminal investigations and responding to emergencies.
Instead of having police enforce traffic laws, Woods proposes jurisdictions that would delegate most traffic enforcement to newly created traffic agencies. These public offices would operate independently from police departments and hire their own traffic monitors to conduct and oversee traffic enforcement, including stops, according to a release from the University of Arkansas on Thursday.
“Traffic stops are the most frequent interaction between police and civilians today,” said Woods, the faculty director of the Richard B. Atkinson LGBTQ Law & Policy Program at the University of Arkansas School of Law. “And because we know traffic enforcement is a common gateway for funneling over-policed and marginalized communities into the criminal justice system, these stops are a persistent source of racial and economic injustice.”
According to the UA’s release, previous research has shown that Black and Latinx motorists are disproportionately stopped by police for traffic violations, and, compared to white drivers, these groups are also disproportionately questioned, frisked, searched, cited and arrested during traffic stops.
Woods also argues that, aside to the social benefits, removing police from traffic enforcement and adopting traffic laws could put an end to “unfair and often subjective reliance on traffic ticket revenue to fund state and local budgets.”