Minneapolis Council voted to ‘abolish’ police, now asking outside agencies to assist with violent crime spike

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The same city council members that recently voted to “abolish” the entire Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is now considering bringing in officers from other jurisdictions to help tackle the spike in violent crime and officer shortage.

The Star Tribune reported that if the mayor and city council more forward to approve the plan, then officers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police would temporarily work with the city.

These additional officers would primarily help in responding to violent 911 calls. 

John Elder, a spokesman for Minneapolis police said that the officers would form Joint Enforcement Teams (JETs), which the city has relied on in the past, particularly to help in areas where violence was spiking.

Elder said:

“We’re not gonna be having these people out taking bicycle theft reports. These are gong to be people combating crime issues.”

Allegedly, the city would then reimburse the Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police for the officers they supply. The total cost is estimated to be somewhere around $497,000, which would be taken out of the city’s “contingency fund.”

The initial proposal calls fro the teams to form on November 15th, 2020 and run through the end of the year. Council Member Linea Palmisano, who is loud in her support for the supplementary patrols, said that she hopes the teams will be able to continue into the 2021 budget, which is set to be finalized next month.

She said:

“We’re barely able to cover the shifts that we have. We really can’t allocate additional police officers for on-duty shifts.”

The proposal is set to go before the council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee. If it passes there, it will then go to a final council vote before making its way to the mayor for approval. According to the mayor’s office, Mayor Jacob Frey supports the arrangement.

In the wake of the violent riots after the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis police officials have been shuffling personnel around in order to fill the holes after roughly 20 percent of officers have filed for “duty disability.”

According to reports, almost 200 officers have sought “duty disability” in order to leave the police department and went on to cite the reason as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the violent riots. 50 of those officers were present on May 28th when the 3rd precinct was overrun by rioters and burned to the ground.

Attorney Ron Meuser, who handles most disability claims for the Minneapolis Police Federation, said that 75 of those officers were placed under doctors’ order not to return to work as they underwent treatment for symptoms consistent with PTSD. In response to the 3rd precinct burning down, he said:

“They did not feel they were going to come home. Some officers were texting their families’ goodbye and others were saving a bullet in case they needed to take their own life, rather than being beaten to death.”

He said that since the death of George Floyd, officers have felt abandoned by city and state politicians as well as the community at large.

Meuser said:

“It’s an emotional beatdown on a daily basis for these guys.”

Meuser said that most of the officers seeking disability have between 16 and 23 years on the police force. In October, a group of residents filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to have enough police officers on the streets to keep their neighborhoods safe.

The lawsuit alleges that the city is operating below the level of officers mandated by the city charter. Based on the latest published census estimates for Minneapolis, the charter requires about 730 police employees. However, the city denied that it has been violating any mandates. 

The proposal comes about five months after a majority of council members promised to work toward “abolishing” the MPD following George Floyd’s death. The city has since struggled to combat a wave of violent crime, recording an astonishing 74 homicides so far this year. 

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LET Unity

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Well, that was fast.

Just two months after a civilian group began patrolling the streets of Minneapolis with the noble but arguably unachievable goal of preventing violence, the group has been sidelined.

As we previously reported, in September 2020 the city of Minneapolis launched a group known as “Violence Interrupters,” armed with “knowledge” and tasked with identifying and mediating conflicts before they became violent.

City Council representative Phillipe Cunningham told CBS Minnesota:

“The intention is for this to actually stop the violence, stop the guns from being shot so that the police don’t even have to show up in the first place.”

However, violence has continued to increase in a city that has already defunded its police and is seeking to slash police funding even more.

At this writing, there appears to be no specific information tabulated on conflicts resolved by the group.

One reporter for MPR News did note that the group linked arms and inserted itself in between police and protestors, and reportedly their pleas for the protestors to listen to police and disperse were not well received.

The same reporter also pointed out that the group had been met with mistrust from those they sought to assist, and that three people were shot mere blocks away from where the “Violence Interrupters” had gathered the night she interviewed them.

CBS Minnesota also reported that there were some neighbors in violent communities who wanted more than the “Violence Interruptors” were offering, such as more police presence as a deterrent to crime.

With no reported miraculous works under their belts, the “Violence Interrupters” are now on hiatus.

City officials claim that the group has stopped patrolling “because of weather and to conduct training.”

However, “Violence Interruptors” consultant Jamil Jackson told CBS Minnesota that the group was told to step back because of election season – a telling request, perhaps, given the stated goals and methods of the group and the great potential need for de-escalation at such a time.

Said Jackson:

“With the protestors and things, since we had some run-ins a little in the past, so we were asked to kind of take a step back during this time and let this, this pass us and then we will be back out.”

The “Violence Interrupters” will reportedly still have a presence if requested at special or small events, but the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention told CBS:

“Team leaders will be focusing more time and attention on training and planning from December through March.”

Jackson also stated that the group will be changing how it operates.

Instead of patrolling and going to members of the community, he indicated that the group will be focusing on the young, and looking to have locations where youth can approach the “Violence Interrupters.”

Jackson told CBS that the group is:

“trying to secure some locations where youth can come to us, where we can service them in our spaces as opposed to us being out on the corner.”

He added:

“We had a lot of youth who were really interested in what we had to say, but because of peer pressure they were finding it hard to pull away from their friends to speak their truth, and so that was – that’s why we are pushing heavy with the city to give us the spaces.”

According to the Star Tribune, the “Violence Interrupters” program was funded when the city moved $1.1 million from the police department to the Office of Violence Prevention.  Team members are paid employees of the OVP.

Although the group is sidelined, CBS Minnesota reports that while the city reviews the work that the “Violence Interrupters” have done over the last two months, the 2020 budget includes funds for the program and “ongoing support is anticipated.”

Meanwhile, violence-plagued Minneapolis continues on its quest to defund the police further than it already has, currently to the tune of $18 million, and with an eye to eliminating the Rapid Response Team and the Special Emergency Reaction Team.

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LET Unity

In case you happened to miss it, here is our previous editorial on the Violence Preventers in Minneapolis:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Well folks, it’s official like a referee’s whistle – Minneapolis has launched their new means to combat violent crime before it stops. Welcome to the era of the “Violence Interrupters”.

Seriously…that’s what the new violence-prevention team is called in Minneapolis; the “Violence Interrupters”. Their mission: stop violence in the streets before it starts.

Whether or not they’ll be successful is a whole different can of worms, but it’s hard not to be a little cynical when examining the methods employed versus the audacious goals looking to be achieved.

So, for those unaware, here’s what the Violence Interrupters are stacked up against in terms of their resources, goals they hope to achieve and the methods they plan to employ in order to be successful in their endeavors.

Their resources are walkie talkies and being “armed with knowledge”. That’s about it in terms of resources. Oh, they’ve also got matching orange shirts.

Their goal is simple to articulate but daring to conquer – stop potentially violent confrontations before they become violent episodes.

And how do they accomplish this you might ask?

Well, they’re going to be hitting the streets looking for scenarios that can possibly go awry in a violent manner and attempt to deescalate situations by talking things out.

Now to be fair, one of the Violence Interrupters named Abdul-Ahad stated that once things get genuinely violent, they’re going to wind up calling the police:

“They respond to emergency situations, gunshots and stab wounds. We aren’t here for that, you know, we are there to prevent things like that from happening, so they won’t have to get called.”

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Now, imagine if you will, a verbal conflict transpiring at some various corner within Minneapolis where two opposing parties are getting heated. Then, one of the Violence Interrupters sees the action about to go down.

They quickly unsheathe their holstered walkie talkie and put out the notice to this team armed with “knowledge” of the developing situation:

“Mayday! Mayday! We’ve got a situation outside of the gas station! Come quick team – lets drop some knowledge on these folks!”

Suddenly, a massive outpouring of orange-shirt wearing Violence Interrupters hit the scene and starts sharing some knowledge with the conflicting parties.

Each member of the team prefaces every piece of knowledge with such taglines like ‘I was once like you’ or ‘there’s a better way to do this’.

Before you know it, everyone who was intent on causing harm to one another is captivated by the wise words delivered by these possessors of such amazing knowledge and collectively say something like:

“You know, I never looked at it like that. I’m going to enroll in college starting tomorrow.”

Does that sound sarcastic and cynical?

Good – that was the idea.

But whoever dreamt this idea of Violence Interrupters up and then mobilized them as such must’ve had a similar scenario play out in their head…except they must have believed something like that would actually happen and work.

In real life, things don’t always work out as well as a scripted speech akin to what Lawrence Fishburne delivered in Boys n the Hood, where simply saying that violence is bad and then someone just hands over the gun they had and embraces a hug.

But even those participating in this new endeavor in Minneapolis think that just because people like the idea of what they’re trying to do then that must mean it’s working. Abdul-Ahad gushed about how people deliver ovations as they walk around the neighborhood:

“We get standing ovations, hand claps, honks and whistles. That gives us the motivation to keep going.”

Heck – I’d likely cheer for them too if I saw them in the street – because even I like what they’re trying to do. I mean, a group can have a noble goal that’s worthy of praise…but they can also have a laughable way of trying to approach the goal.

That’s this author’s position on the matter.

The goal of the Violence Interrupters is a great one. No one is going to think that trying to curb violence is bad.

At the same time, the means to try to achieve that goal is worthy of all the criticism, mocking, puns and so on being lodged against it.

To be so naïve to think that a simple interjection by an unaffiliated party into rising conflict is all of the sudden just going to diffuse said conflict is the epitome of cretinism.

The chances of success in that effort is likely about as high of a success rate as changing someone’s political opinion online in a Facebook comment section after someone delivers a multi-paragraph response as to why they should not vote for “X” candidate.

It’s frankly laughable. But I wish them the best of luck.   

 

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