Dismantle The Minneapolis Police Department?
On Sunday afternoon, June 7, in Minneapolis, Dakota News Now reported that nine of the city council’s 12 members appeared at a rally in a city park and promised that the council would “dismantle” the Minneapolis police department. That's a veto-proof majority.
What would that look like? Is this a call for a literal breaking up of the department in that all the officers turn in their badges and guns and find another line of work? It does seem that way or at the very least it is a complete reboot of how the department handles itself.
On Friday, the department announced a much-needed ban on chokeholds and neck restraints in the wake of the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
Everyone is upset at the former police officers involved in Floyd's death, mainly Derek Chauvin, the man who had his knee on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes. Chavin could have easily removed his knee from Floyd's neck and still kept control, but he chose not to, and here we are. The peaceful protesting is understood and we all hope these former officers never see the outside of prison walls again.
So what would replace the department? Minneapolis City Council president Sarah Bender sees a, "broader, more holistic public safety department geared toward violence prevention and community services." She adds, "Social workers or medics could respond to situations once handled by police."
In a world where most criminals only respond to force, how would these social workers handle a robbery in progress or domestic dispute? How would they handle a riot like those that have plagued our cities, including Sioux Falls, during the last couple of weeks? Would the social workers be armed and would those weapons match the power of a bad guy's gun? That remains to be seen.
There are a lot of things to consider here, namely the safety of all citizens in Minneapolis and the safety of those in the other cities who will no doubt be considering similar changes to their police agencies.
Hopefully, any changes will be well thought out and the people tasked with protecting Minneapolis will have the proper training and ability to respond to extreme scenarios. The council members seek to begin the dismantling process during the coming weeks and months.