U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Introduces Legislation Establishing Grant Program for Civilian Traffic Violation Enforcement

Feb 06, 2023
Press
Public Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today announced he is filing legislation to establish a new grant program incentivizing state and local governments to transfer the responsibility of enforcing traffic violations from law enforcement officers to civilians or traffic monitoring technology.

The “Investing in Safer Traffic Stops Act of 2023” is a direct response to the senseless killing of Tyre Nichols, 29, who was brutally beaten to death by five police officers during the course of a traffic stop in Memphis, TN earlier this year.

“Police traffic stops can easily escalate into police brutality,” said Rep. Torres. “What happened to Tyre Nichols could happen to any Black person in America. We have the power to prevent traffic stops from taking a deadly turn by putting enforcement where it belongs – in the hands of civilians or cameras. My bill would create incentives for state and local governments to civilianize or automate traffic enforcement, making it safer for Black people like Tyre Nichols.”

According to a New York Times investigation, police officers over a recent five year period killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not armed with a gun or a knife or under pursuit for a violent crime – a rate of more than one killing a week. Further, additional public reporting demonstrates that encounters with police during traffic stops, including minor infractions, disproportionately harm people of color.

The “Investing in Safer Traffic Stops Act of 2023” directs the U.S. Attorney General to create a grant program, providing funding to state, local, and tribal governments to hire civilian employees or purchase traffic monitoring technology for the purpose of enforcing traffic violations instead of law enforcement officers. 

For fiscal years 2024 through 2029, $100,000,000 would be allocated to the program each year.

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