Minneapolis City Council in June: Defund the police! Minneapolis City Council in September: Where are the police?

In June:

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced their support for de-funding the Minneapolis Police Department and replacing it with a community-based public safety model at a rally in Powderhorn Park Sunday afternoon. 

The council members were explicit that this meant ending the Minneapolis police department:

Councilmember Ellison said frankly, “This council is going to dismantle this police department.” 

Similarly, Councilmember Cano said the council would “abolish the Minneapolis Police system as we know it.” 

Fortunately for the citizens of Minneapolis, this madcap idea has floundered. But serious problems remain, specifically a spike in violence in the city.

Yesterday, in what was billed as a study session on police reform, city council members called out police Chief Medaria Arradondo. MPR News reports:

Council President Lisa Bender, who was among those leading the call to overhaul the department, suggested that officers were being defiant. Her constituents say officers on the street have admitted that they’re purposely not arresting people who are committing crimes.

“This is not new,” Bender said. “But it is very concerning in the current context.” 

This, of course, is the same Lisa Bender who, in June, said that:

…she and the eight other councilmembers that joined the rally are committed to ending the city’s relationship with the police force and “to end policing as we know it and recreate systems that actually keep us safe.”

Fox 9 reported:

Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins described lawlessness in the area around 38th and Chicago, the site of George Floyd’s deadly arrest. Some residents have reported having to pay extortion money to get out of their own alleys, Jenkins told Arradondo.

“‘This his is a no-go zone, we’re not coming there, meet us three blocks away,'” Jenkins said constituents have heard.

MPR News reported that:

Jeremy Schroeder represents the 11th Ward, which covers a section of far south central Minneapolis. He said a recent spate of robberies of businesses at 48th Street and Chicago Avenue scared and frustrated residents and business owners.

Jenkins and chroeder were among the nine council members who committed to disbanding the police department back in June.

MPR News reports:

“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police’?” said Jamal Osman, newly elected council member of Ward 6.  He said he’s already been inundated with complaints from residents that calls for police aren’t being answered.

“That is the only public safety option they have at the moment. MPD. They rely on MPD. And they are saying they are nowhere to be seen,” Osman said.

This is the same who told Minn Post last month:

For too long the Minneapolis Police Department has been an organization that lacks community oversight and direction. They have been too powerful. The resource and funding they get — we should definitely look at it. And maybe we should take those resources and spend it in community, however that looks. 

MPR News reports that Arradondo told the city council that:

…around 100 officers have left the department or have taken leave since the beginning of 2020. That’s more than double the usual number of officers who either step down from the department or who are inactive each year.

Fox 9 reports that:

The number is certain to rise, given the number of police officers making disability claims after George Floyd’s deadly arrest and the riots that followed.

Ron Meuser, an attorney who represents the Minneapolis Police Federation on disability claims, said his firm currently represents 175 Minneapolis officers who are making medical claims. Most are related to post-traumatic stress, he said.

Arradondo said he’s reorganized MPD to maintain patrol staff strength at 535, which a police spokesman said is down from 554 on May 1, a 3 percent decline.

While this might work for now, it is not viable in the long term: research shows that tired officers generate more complaints from the civilians they interact with.

According to Bender, it is the cops themselves, not the city councillors who are to blame for all this. The Minnesota Reformer reports:

Council President Lisa Bender said she suspects the cops are trying to make a case for more staffing, but she thinks the approach is backfiring.

 “I think it’s possible they are essentially campaigning either politically because they don’t support the council member or in some cases the mayor, or perhaps they think they are making the case for more resources for the department,” Bender said. “I can tell you in my ward, it is having the opposite effect: It is making people even more frustrated with the department.”

Of course, the cops being criticized by the authorities for not being active enough in fighting crime are the same men and women whom the very same authorities – from the city council, to the Mayor, to the Governor – routinely denounce as a bunch of racists.

In the midst of this furious back pedaling, a prize for consistency goes to council member Phillipe Cunningham. According to Fox 9, he said:

“What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is that colleagues who a very short time ago were calling for abolition are now suggesting we should be putting more funding and resources into MPD”

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.