George Floyd

Minneapolis City Council's Promise To Dismantle Police Is Now in Political Limbo

Aggressive sloganeering doesn't necessarily lead to policy reforms.

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George Floyd's death under the knee of then–Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin unleashed the activism that prompted the Minneapolis City Council to vote in June to completely eliminate the police department and attempt to craft a more "holistic" approach to handling public safety.

That's not happening. It turns out that actually shifting policies takes more than embracing an expansive but vague concept of change.

The Minneapolis City Council knew this in June: The council's vote didn't actually order the disbanding or defunding of police. Instead it launched a lengthy process to change the city's charter with the aim of ultimately replacing the police department with a "Community Safety & Violence Prevention Department."

What does that actually mean? Well, that's part of the problem. The proposed changes to the city's charter cross out the section on the police and add sections for this new department. Here how the proposal describes the department and the person tapped to lead it:

Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The City Council must establish, maintain, adequately fund, and consistently engage the public about a department of community safety and violence prevention, which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.

Director of Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department. The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a director of the department of community safety and violence prevention under section 8.4(b). Individuals eligible to be appointed as director will have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.

But what does that mean? The next two parts of the proposal essentially restore the idea of having a police department, but just call it the "Division of Law Enforcement Services."

This vagueness, The New York Times reports, ended up being a significant problem. As has become increasingly clear since that vote, there is no real agreement on what this new vision of policing should look like; much of the public—including, in one poll, 50 percent of black residents—"opposed reducing the size of the police department." Meanwhile, councilors "repeatedly heard criticism from business owners and residents in more affluent areas of their wards who feared for their safety, as misinformation spread that the end of the police department was imminent."

It turned out the City Council did not even have the authority to disband the police. Minneapolis is a charter city, and changes to its charter need to be reviewed by a state-appointed charter commission full of volunteers. The commission members are supposed to consider any legal or technical problems with a proposed charter change before putting it before voters. They decided that the proposal had not been written with proper legal provisions or with enough public input, and they declined to forward the City Council's amendment by a vote of 5–10, instead calling for further study. The public will not be voting on it this November.

What has happened instead are some simple, but valuable, incremental reforms. Notably, while there's been barely any "defunding" of the Minneapolis Police Department at all, $1.1 million was shifted from the police to the health department for more resources to try to help mediate conflicts.

The other major "accomplishment" of this vote has been to launch a new front of culture wars across the country where those with substantive policy proposals to reduce overpolicing have been drowned out by rioters on one side and aggressive police supporters on the other. President Donald Trump now campaigns by misrepresenting urban environments as lawless zones of anarchy, and the Department of Justice is attempting to cut grants to cities that cut spending to the police departments.

The best way to reduce police spending is to take the time to reform the ordinances, policies, and practices that cause police departments to expand and that protect officers from accountability for misconduct. Reason's October issue about fixing the police offers a host of substantive, specific changes that will lead to less policing (by ending the drug war, for example) and more accountability for police conduct (by abolishing qualified immunity and busting the police unions). Check out how to reform policing without relying on vague utopian sloganeering here.

NEXT: Amy Coney Barrett on Due Process in Public University Sexual Misconduct Investigations

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  1. Duh, McFly.

    If you don’t have cops, you can’t have progressive government. This is known.

    1. They’ll still have cops, they just won’t call them cops.

      Sort of how Rothbardian AnCaps would still need the police to enforce their strictures against voluntary banking transactions between two people. Which isn’t too different from AnSocs needing the police to patrol for fences and locks and thus the presence of property. It all makes sense if you just get your mind right.

      p.s. No quarrel with voluntaryist anarchists. It’s the ones demanding a specific ordering of society that I have issue with.

      1. “Sort of how Rothbardian AnCaps would still need the police to enforce their strictures against voluntary banking transactions between two people.”

        You continue to strawman even when it’s pointed out to you that in an ancap society, fractional reserve banking wouldn’t be an issue because of competing currencies and banking systems.

        In current society, in which there is a powerful, centralized state that confers privileges on banking companies that results in a coercive monopoly that engages in fraudulent banking, there is no alternative to the Fed and fractional reserve banking, and therefore the use of force to prevent fraud is not hypocritical.

        But keep on with the appeal to hypocrisy and strawman fallacies if they make you feel hard.

        Do you keep repeating this bullshit because you’re bored, retarded, or because you suffer from ED?

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      2. All utopianist philosophies have the tendency to go wrong once you get out at the edges.

        1. All philosophies have the tendency to go wrong once you get to the edges. Practical, utopian, libertarian, whatever.

          The universe is too complicated for a simple set of rules to cover every situation.

          But there are lifeboat ethics and there are the ethics we live our lives by in normal times.

      3. Rothbardian AnCaps would still need the police to enforce their strictures against voluntary banking transactions between two people.

        What the fuck kind of retarded shit is this? Reddit? C4SS?

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    1. Problems solved.
      Platitudes and sloganeering really are the answer.

      1. True; if it won’t fit on a bumper sticker, it is not good policy.

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  3. Minneapolis City Council to vote in June to completely eliminate the police department and attempt to craft a more “holistic” approach to handling public safety.

    Replacing police with conflict resolution interventionists, armed with talismans, healing crystals, and pithy sayings.

    1. the pyramid hat Tobolowsky made Costanza wear.

    2. When peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars … We’re now in the Age of Aquarius doncha know. Defunding the police will work just fine. /s

  4. Policies are reformed when the proper class seeks reform.

  5. If we reduce the police then who will enforce mandatory wearing of masks?

    1. Deputized Karens.

      1. Who should be topless.

        1. Topless, but not maskless. Isn’t that already some kind of fetish or niche porn?

          1. I volunteer to research this topic.

          2. It’s already a thing: Rule 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.”

          3. There’s a version for men where they only wear masks on their crotches. As it’s extremely hot, the continuum adopted it as our costume of choice at our matinees.

        2. They’ll all be transgender, so… not something you’ll be interested in.

    2. Nobody, which is itself a good reason to reduce the police.

      1. But what about muh roads? Who will police muh roads?

        1. There was a guy named Max – – – – – – –

    3. A Political Enforcement and Public Safety Squad, armed with firearms loaded with “anti-fascist” ammunition and a license to kill recalcitrant offenders. But at least it won’t be the cops.

  6. Gosh! If there were a burning wreckage of a helicopter in the middle of a road, Ilhan Omar would feel right at home.

  7. Maybe we should reduce the number of laws so that the police we have can enforce the remaining laws better than they are.

    The Roman historian Tacitus once said about the post Republic Rome “formerly we suffered from crimes, today we suffer from laws”. I think that is true of America today. We do suffer from way too many laws and historically at least comparatively few crimes.

    Reason seems to take that state off affairs to mean we only suffer from laws and can never again suffer from crimes. Yes, we can suffer from crimes. Indeed, poor and minority communities do suffer from crimes to an extent that is inconsistent with a just society. To advocate getting rid of the police just means will all will suffer from crimes again. We still need police and in many communities just as many police as we have now. They just need to spend their time enforcing fewer laws.

    1. They just need to spend their time enforcing fewer laws.

      Yeah, and make them demonstrate they understand 100%. If 80% is a passing grade, which 20% of the laws is it OK for them to enforce incorrectly.

      Why do they give people a fucking driver license who don’t understand what ‘failure to yield to merging traffic’ means? Let alone a cop!

    2. Most Americans are much more afraid of police and bureaucrats than they are of criminals.

      1. I doubt that. I’m no fan of police and hate beaurocrats but I’m more afraid of criminals. But then again sometimes it is hard to distinguish the two from each other.

        1. It’s actually a pretty weird dichotomy going on.

          A lot of variables to make a simple judgment.

          What kind of criminal are we talking about? The kind who is breaking in my house with ill intent? I might be more afraid in terms of the outcome. If I run in to this kind, shit is serious and can end badly. Real bad. Like, dead bad. So there’s certainly a reason to fear that.

          But it also depends on where you live. Realistically, taking the exceedingly low crime rate in my town, I have virtually nothing to fear in terms of higher end criminals. There’s petty theft and the like, but we don’t have serious crime, so being dicked over by some county government nitwit is probably the worst thing that would happen to me where I live.

          I’ve had far more negative interactions with the police and bureaucrats than I have with those kinds of criminals. Being fucked by a bureaucrat or having your day ruined by a cop is far more likely to happen than being the victim of the big bad criminal types. I’ve had more cops unjustly point guns at me than I have criminals.

          So in that sense it’s more logical to fear cops and bureaucrats more.

      2. Most Americans are not idiots. So no.

      3. Only if they’re aren’t any criminals around.

      4. Most Americans are much more afraid of police and bureaucrats than they are of criminals.

        Most people who claim to know what most Americans think are full of crap.

      5. That is not true at all.
        Us “normals” are only afraid of a speeding or parking ticket from the police.
        Because we stop when ordered, don’t attempt to flee, cooperate, and even though we are armed, do not draw on cops.
        We are afraid of rape, theft and murder from criminals.
        Criminals are a far worse menace

        1. You’re naïve. If a common criminal breaks into your house and steals something, it’s upsetting, but you’ll recover. Your insurance will pay for it, or you’ll replace it. If a government agency comes after you, they can destroy your whole life. It happens every day. Run-ins with very dangerous criminals like serial killers, on the other hand, are exceedingly rare. You are far more likely to have a life-crushing encounter with a government regulator or prosecutor than with a very dangerous criminal.

    3. I saw some OTM’s doing landscaping at an accountant’s office recently. Perfect example of the anarcho and the tyranny on a half acre lot.

      1. I take back “perfect example of anarcho.” The Summer of George substantially raised the bar on examples or government anarchy.

  8. Dems pols, eager to please the Leftist, anti-American BLM rabble spout nonsense and later finally realize what they spouted was nonsense. Those Dems are SUCH deep thinkers.

  9. Minneapolis City Council’s Promise To Dismantle Police Is Now in Political Limbo
    Aggressive sloganeering doesn’t necessarily lead to policy reforms.

    Of course it’s in limbo. It’s the dumbest, most retarded reform idea I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s so stupid, I’m now convinced it was designed to fail.

    Black Lives Matter isn’t a quality organization. They’re not looking for ‘reform’, they want to burn the whole system down and replace it with Marxism. Divisive and aggressive sloganeering is the point. it’s destabilizing by its nature. Anyone in the media that thought we’d get ‘reform’ out of #DefundThePolice is either useful idiot too stupid to be a journalist or knew it was never going to work and was carrying BLMs revolutionary water.

  10. Individuals eligible to be appointed as director will have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.

    If they are talking about putting someone in charge like a fire department chief or a hospital administrator for whom policing is not part of ‘who they are’, I could definitely see that being positive. But WTF is ‘restorative justice’ anyway? Replacing the police chief with a Politboro officer is going to get you closer to a police state, not further away.

    1. But WTF is ‘restorative justice’ anyway?

      Reparations.

      1. Restorative justice is where you charge criminally any white man who defends himself from BLM protest. that is already taking place. try to defend your self, arrested, try to drive away from a mob your arrested try to not invoke their spoken words you can be fired. all these things have already happened to a degree and restorative justice will just put it into law.

    1. I’d heard they released the body cam footage, and I had suspicions because I saw activist begging people not to post it because it would “traumatize” them. Which sounded like a bullshit excuse considering how the floyd shaky cam was treated.

      1. Say what you will about the George Floyd case, the Taylor case looks like all the Is and Ts were pretty well dotted and crossed. The retard officer who shot blindly into the apartment (and other apartments) has been charged appropriately. The other officers appear to have acted reasonably. And all the other narrative lies about wrong addresses, Taylor asleep, no connection to her boyfriend’s drug business etc… all bullshit. All of it. 100% of it.

        You could feel the frantic narrative re-construction in the embarrassing questions the reporters were asking the local DA after that press conference.

        1. No-knock drug raids in the middle of the night are never reasonable.

  11. Dismantling the police is not exactly policy reform.

    1. Progressives are going to be standing around after 100% of the #defund efforts collapse, saying “Wha happaaaa…”

  12. I wonder… if you rearrange that sentence, they are looking for someone who ideally has: non-law enforcement experience in restorative justice approaches to community safety services.

    Nope, I can’t give that sentence any clarity. That experience does not currently exist among recognized professionals. I am going to stick with ‘sounds like a political officer’.

    The only people that have that particular experience are usually hired by the mayor’s office and are usually a family member who can’t get a real job with their African/Latinx Studies degree.

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  14. Look, let’s all just agree that black people aren’t human beings, let’s all agree that they’re animals that can’t be held to the same standards as human beings and everything becomes clear here. I mean, you can’t hold a dog legally liable if he fucks another dog or steals a chunk of meat from the butcher shop or shits on your lawn, he’s just a dog and doesn’t know any better. Let’s just treat black people the same way and there’s no problem, right?

    1. There’s good and bad in every race, religion and sex (even dog).. I’d guess this one of the kind’s of justice that would remain from a “dismantled” individual justice system. Something I am so glad I am so far away from. Democratic so-called “justice” is sickening. Reminds me of Hitler justice.

  15. The next two parts of the proposal essentially restore the idea of having a police department, but just call it the “Division of Law Enforcement Services.”

    Wow, this was such an unforeseeable outcome. Nobody at the time, particular no reason commenters, could have ever predicted that they end up still having police with a different name. Some of us even pointed out that they’d end up with two police departments-the old police and the new police.

    It’s looking very much like that’s coming to pass. “Defund the Police” somehow discovered a way to spend even more money on policing by adding a new department.

  16. Yeah nice gaslighting there reason editors. Don’t believe your own eyes and ears, let us interpret this for you.

    They’re fucking marxists you grifters. You don’t play nice with them.

  17. Democrats have controlled Minneapolis city council since the 1950’s, though there is now one Green Party member.
    Democrats control all five of the elected statewide offices:
    Governor: Tim Walz (D)
    Lieutenant Governor: Peggy Flanagan (D)
    Secretary of State: Steve Simon (D)
    State Auditor: Julie Blaha (D)
    Attorney General: Keith Ellison (D)

    Without any conservatives in the way. Minneapolis should have achieved justice and perfect policing decades ago.
    Maybe Trump has a time machine?

    1. Democrats have controlled Minneapolis city council since the 1950’s, though there is now one Green Party member.
      Democrats control all five of the elected statewide offices:

      America’s lurch to the right!

  18. A lot of devils in those details.

    This is what sloganeering, emotional appeals get to, these people had no idea what they wanted, had no idea what their constituents wanted and no idea how to get there if they did. As well as not obeying their state and local constitutional procedures Making it about race and , at best, looking the other way at the violent protests muddied the whatever reform you wanted.

  19. “…the Department of Justice is attempting to cut grants to cities that cut spending to the police departments.”

    Sounds like an excellent idea, but it doesn’t go far enough. Police departments should be funded entirely locally, and should enforce locally-created laws. For the very few federal laws that would exist under a proper understanding of the US Constitution, a small force of federal police should suffice to provide enforcement.

    1. ^EXACTLY!!! Time to feed old-corrupt federal legislature through an honest SCOTUS and cut the federal over-power tyranny in 1/2.

  20. It turns out that actually shifting policies takes more than embracing an expansive but vague concept of change.

    Chief among the things it takes is sincerity.

    Some of the people with the vague concept are just front running. Others have specific concepts of change, but if they said what those really were, the voters would be at their throats — and some of them would be at each other’s.

  21. On the other hand, attempted policy reform, widely publicized, does have concrete results; riots.

    1. Ironically, this results in a lot of very well funded police with DoD toys.

  22. The only agencies that should be dismantled are the government, antifa, blm and the socialists.

  23. Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle are getting everything they deserved. Vote for stupid people while not expecting stupid results?

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  25. Notice that the story have virtually disappeared from the media.
    That’s not an accident.

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