CULVER CITY, Calif. — Police officers are trained to look for law breakers on the road but in Culver City, cops like Sergeant Derek Scharlin are learning to look the other way. A new directive called “refocused policing” has directed officers to no longer pull over drivers for non-hazardous infractions like broken taillights, tinted windows or expired registration.
“The type of police work we do is based on how the people want us to police and they’ve spoken so that’s how we’re going to police,” Scharlin said on a recent ride along with Spectrum News 1.
Culver City’s millennial police chief says the changes are in response to community calls for reform in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and concerns traffic stops disproportionately impact young people of color.
“I got a lot of feedback from our community that these are violations that oftentimes impact certain segments of our community like lower income and people of color,” Chief Manny Cid said.
The first few months of the program have been mixed. From February to April, Culver City Police actually pulled over more drivers across the board, despite the directive. The department said traffic volume has increased over the same period of time, as Los Angeles County eases COVID-19 restrictions and reopens for business.
“It’s a small sample size, it’s only been a couple of months but so far the numbers seem to be much more reflective and equitable across the board,” Cid said.
Police will still stop drivers for hazardous violations like distracted driving and illegal turns.
Sgt. Scharlin says police are an important part of crash investigations. He says law enforcement is evolving with the times.
“Historically, it’s been difficult to change the paradigm of law enforcement officers, we understand that and I feel with leadership like Chief Cid, we’re going to break that inability to change, we’re going to accept change and embrace it and be better for it,” Scharlin said.
He said the heart of the job is service, and that won’t change.