Brooklyn Center mayor wants ‘unarmed civilians’ to handle traffic stops

The resolution calls for an "unarmed civilian Traffic Enforcement Department" to enforce "all non-moving traffic violations in the City." 

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot addresses citizens on April 22. (Mayor Mike Elliott/Facebook)

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott proposed a police reform policy to send unarmed members of a community safety group, instead of police officers, to handle traffic stops in the city.

Elliott called a special meeting Saturday to introduce the resolution to the Brooklyn Center City Council. Members of the public were also present at the meeting, according to Fox News.

The resolution calls for an “unarmed civilian Traffic Enforcement Department” to enforce “all non-moving traffic violations in the City.”

It also creates a “Community Response Department” of medical and mental health professionals who would respond to calls involving people who are “primarily experiencing” a medical, mental health, or disability-related issue. A dispatch system would direct calls to the “Community Response Department” instead of the police department.

“This resolution will transform our system so that police are not the only available response for everything,” Elliott said at the meeting.

“I just want to get to work before there’s another killing in our city,” he told the Star Tribune.

He named the resolution after Daunte Wright, a Brooklyn Center resident who was killed in an officer-involved shooting last month, and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a 21-year-old with autism who was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center officers after he charged at them with a knife, Fox News reported.

The mayor’s resolution also establishes a new “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” that would oversee all city agencies involved with community health and public safety, including police and fire departments. A committee of the same name would “review and make recommendations regarding the policing response to recent protests,” and review contracts between the police department and the city.

The committee must consist mainly of Brooklyn Center residents who have “direct experience being arrested, detained, or having similar contact with Brooklyn Center Police,” the resolution states.

Different approaches to law enforcement will “improve overall public safety, better address the root causes of many issues,” and “promote racial justice,” according to the resolution.

Billie Jean Van Knight, a member of the Racial Justice Network, said at the Saturday meeting, “We want people to be able to call people to get help.”

“We want to be able to drive in peace without being harassed. Please, you can make a difference,” Knight said.

Law enforcement officials expressed concern at the meeting about the logistics and safety of assigning unarmed residents to traffic stop violations.

The council was supposed to vote on the matter Saturday but asked for more time to review the resolution and did not set a date to vote.