No police traffic stops? College professor suggests they should be a thing of the past

Professor Jordan Blair Woods argues that when it comes to routine traffic stops, police should be taken out of the equation.


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A law professor at the University of Arkansas has a new way of looking at police involvement in traffic stops.

Professor Jordan Blair Woods' study, "Traffic Without the Police," is going to be published in the Stanford Law Review.

Woods said, when it comes to routine traffic stops, police should be taken out of the equation.

"Many traffic stops that escalate into violence are often related to the ways in which officers invoke their authority during traffic stops that go beyond just asking for a driver's license or registration. Things like ordering people out of the car, telling someone that they're under arrest, putting their hands inside of the vehicle," he said.

In Woods' article, he argues police should not enforce traffic laws. Instead, he suggests traffic stops should be delegated to independent "traffic agencies" that are separate from police departments.

"Rather than have police be the ones, in particular armed police officers, that are the ones who enforce these types of laws, we could move in the direction of having a different civil agency that is separate from the police conduct this type of work. The goal is that we would then see fewer traffic stops devolving into unnecessary violence against communities of color," Woods said.

The traffic agencies would help with simple stops like having a headlight out or rolling through a stop sign, but Woods said police would still be called in for serious traffic stops like a DUI or a stolen vehicle.

"I hope that, if the article does anything, is to start a conversation that there's a new path ahead and a different path for communities to achieve traffic safety and avoid some of these horrible incidents we're seeing occurring over and over again," he said.

Click here to read Traffic Without the Police.