Poll shows ‘defunding’ Minneapolis police is driven by white voters
A poll carried out for the Star Tribune, MPR News, KARE 11, FRONTLINE and the PBS series sheds some fascinating light on the ongoing debate on policing in Minneapolis. Some…
Dictionary.com offers several definitions of the word ‘frequency,’ one of which is:
Also frequence. the state or fact of being frequent; frequent occurrence
Bear this definition in mind when you consider what Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said to a council meeting last week:
The police kill people in our city with some frequency…
In fact, a database maintained by the Star Tribune of every police-involved death in Minnesota since 2000 shows that just one person has been killed by law enforcement in Minneapolis so far in 2021: Winston Smith, who officers claim was shooting at them during the course of an arrest (an investigation is ongoing).
In 2020, two people were killed by law enforcement in Minneapolis: George Floyd and Dolal Idd. George Floyd’s case is well known and Derek Chauvin has been jailed for his murder. According to a preliminary report from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Idd struck several police vehicles with the car he was driving and had shot his gun first before police returned fire.
Each of these events is tragic, but they do not appear to be ‘frequent’ occurrences. Indeed, the Star Tribune‘s database shows that, in the last two decades, in the most deadly years in terms of ‘police violence’ in Minneapolis (2002, 2003, 32004, and 2006) three people were killed.
Figure 1: Fatalities at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis
Source: Star Tribune
To repeat, each of these deaths is a tragedy, leaving behind it grieving friends and family. Not all of these deaths can be justified and if the number can be reduced by reasonable steps then these steps should be taken.
But there are times when the police will have to act to apprehend criminals. On some of these occasions they will need to use force. And, where criminals are prepared to use lethal force themselves, the police will also, occasionally, have to do so themselves, however tragic. We could try to reduce the number of fatalities caused by the police to zero by simply outlawing the use of lethal force by the police: how do you think criminals would respond to that?
The numbers show that the police do not kill people in Minneapolis “with some frequency.” You have to assume that the city council president knows this, yet she says it anyway. If people are wondering why the police department is having trouble maintaining its numbers, Lisa Bender is one reason.
Lisa Bender is fixated on the problem of ‘police violence’ while remaining largely silent on the tidal wave of violent crime which is washing over her city, claiming 49 lives so far this year, at least 70 percent of whom have been black. This adherence to ideology over reality is crippling her city.