Minneapolis police chief tells cops to stop enforcing some traffic laws

Minneapolis will not prosecute drivers who use a suspended license, so long as the suspension results from unpaid fines.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo talks with protesters at the site of George Floyd's death. (Chad Davis/Flickr)

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has directed his officers to stop enforcing some traffic laws.

The Minneapolis Police Department (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 explained to his officers via an email earlier this week. This email also explained how “the City Attorney’s Office will stop prosecuting tickets for driving after suspension when the only basis for the suspension was a failure to pay fines or fees,” provided no accident or “egregious driving behavior” was involved.

Arradondo says the MPD’s new traffic enforcement policy is based on “the continued importance of examining how we can better utilize time, resources and operational effectiveness.” However, other elements of city leadership have signaled that the new policy is aimed at reducing the number of minorities who are pulled over.

City Attorney Jim Rowader told the Washington Post that the changes are aimed at addressing perceived racial inequality “while not compromising public safety.” Mary Moriarty, a former Hennepin County public defender also spoke to the Post, saying she feels MPD still has too much ability to pull over motorists. “If a cop really wants to pull you over, they’re going to find a reason to do it,” she bemoans.

Meanwhile, police haven’t been pulling over the usual number of drivers anyway since the George Floyd riots, per the Star Tribune. Some attribute this decline in policing to the Twin Cities’ anti-law enforcement climate while others blame it on the number of police who have left the force.

The head of the Minneapolis Police Federation says that during most days last month, sections of the city were left virtually unpatrolled. On one shift there were only four police officers in the entirety of the Fourth Precinct — which covers the city’s notoriously violent north side.