As debate about the NYPD budget and responsibilities rage, it is worth looking at an example of intelligent police divestment from nearly a half-century ago. In 1973, a black police officer started a process that would eventually civilianize thousands of NYPD positions in traffic enforcement.
The former police jobs were then handled by a new uniformed force within the Traffic Department (now DOT) that was mostly made up of men and women of color and who lived within the five boroughs. This was a sharp departure in a period when few police were of color or lived in the city with the exception of Staten Island and some outer borough, mostly white areas, of the city. And the functions largely paid for themselves.