Examining whether police should enforce traffic stops

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer looks at calls to remove police from traffic enforcement in the wake of violent and deadly encounters from routine stops.
6:50 | 05/07/21

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Transcript for Examining whether police should enforce traffic stops
This week we've been taking a closer look at policing in America and tonight we're zeroing in on traffic stops millions of them occur every year in the US. Police officers pull over drivers for speeding running red lights expired or missing tens most of them are considered non events but as we've seen lately. They can sometimes turn deadly in a flash for people of color especially they can be heart pounding in counters. What police were removed from traffic enforcement all together. Some parts of the country are giving out a look here's ABC's Devin Dwyer. Traffic stops that torn into tragedy. Often begin with a minor infraction or none at all. Broken tail lights dangling air freshener simply looking like a criminal suspect. Last month it was an alleged expired tags that led police to stop twenty year old Donte' right. A Los masala. He's never come from bank and Kim except that. Wright's death by police bullets in Minnesota has prompted fresh soul searching over why traffic stops in America. Too often end violently for people of color. Whoever black person is stopped for traffic violation issued not interpret a death sentence and ABC news analysis of millions of traffic stops and a dozen US cities last year. Found black drivers are more likely to be stopped in more likely to be searched than white drivers. On the side of the road things can quickly go south. We got pulled over for buzz that's allied in the back. Orlando could steals girlfriend was filming in 2016. After he was fatally shot as he tried to provide ID to an officer he was never out. Bad name you. He never did anything for art inlet. Late last year army second lieutenant corona is Dario was stopped over missing license plate and is US UV. Even to a temporary tags in the back window and officer pepper spray news Oreo is his hands were out the window. Well overall noting woods' daughter. We'll go. For years its civil rights groups have complained that traffic stops the big cover for racial profiling in criminal fishing expeditions. And now some say traffic enforcement should be removed from police responsibilities. Altogether. Even this is training and get us she knew that he structural reforms that we need. I had to stop these incidents happen. Criminologist and law professor Jordan Blair woods is urging cities and states to stop cops from stopping drivers. Proposing the creation of unarmed civilian traffic monitors. Who could issue tickets for violations but would not run background checks were detained search or rest drivers. So rather than niece assays are being used war until it finally Asian or equipment violation or so I'm lesions. How I'm decent little squeeze in these monitors essentially into using. The difference is that traffic south Sutton and a traffic violation. Nearly nineteen million drivers were stopped by police in 2018. Wood says if most or all of those encounters were eliminated unnecessary confrontations. Could be avoided. They just do. And I being forced to leave England evening I'm behind. And investment right here buddy there in 2019 Virginia State troopers pulled over Derek Thompson for an expired inspection. Stop captured and Thompson's cellphone camera quickly got physical thing the officer was later fired. We don't necessarily do trading on the escalation on a regular basis everybody gets to a small extent. But probably not nearly enough considering how important it is in terms or are you really do your job. Even officers who have years of training were involved in the training are involved in these types and in chilies and unarmed black. The idea of removing police from the traffic enforcement business is giving a serious look. And a handful of US cities and states in March Virginia impose new limits on wind cops can pull drivers over. A loud exhaust pipe where the smell of marijuana no longer count as a primary reason to initiate a stop. Berkeley California last summer became the first city in the nation to band police officers from making traffic stops. Transferring debt duty to unarmed traffic agents. I think didn't goal once again is sin is to take those functions are police are wrenched back. I'm and she moved rescue. Nuns sworn positions which should get a seat saint. Money most law enforcement officials say it's a bad. When to be less respectful. And lasts Shearer for the consequences. Britain restructure rules and that's hermit or let's say on the road police organization seat traffic stops are among the most dangerous responsibilities officers have. Any critical tool to cracking down on criminals. Those have been very very very far in taking guns are the streets of this century. Or and shoot outs like this one in Arkansas a reminder of the dangers cops can't please yeah. But studies show such attacks. We're very rear. Killing sponsors or try out. Are less than one instance by millions on evidence and that millions of traffic on her every single year and we're. It comes to curbing crime researchers in Nashville and 2018 found. Traffic stops do not appear to have a significant impact on long term crime trends. With millions of Americans hitting the road this summer moving cops to the curb thesis serious challenges. Hiring new battalions of traffic monitors is expensive. There are legal hurdles states like California have laws prohibiting civilians from handling police duties them. And there are questions of compliance. What do you do all of those and aren't comport. So what do you do with the person who. Knows that there receding back there acquire another ticket because her insurance would never go and they just take off. Communities how does serious discussions now is now the circumstances under rich media stressed. Bestseller that traffic Bender grow but really those tapes some of the incidents are. Liberal minority. And I've situations it easy today. A call to re imagine police scene and traffic enforcement. As more communities grapple with how to prevent traffic stops. From turning into tragedies big and there's lot of group proceeds Ali's. Or redesign of their urging innings in order to solve the senior cents. For ABC news I'm Devin Dwyer in Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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