Give credit where due for thinking outside of the box, I guess, although this idea belongs in a box … buried under the St. Anthony Falls. In the Minneapolis city council’s haste to prove it doesn’t need a professional and trained police force to keep the peace, they nearly decided to pay ad hoc bands of armed citizens to patrol the streets. Only late inquiries about this proposal from city residents and local media managed to change their minds:
The Minneapolis City Council briefly considered diverting money from police to citizen patrols, with the council’s public safety chairwoman suggesting an armed group as one that could potentially benefit.
During a budget meeting last week, Council Member Alondra Cano proposed cutting $500,000 from the Minneapolis Police Department for the citizen groups.
She described it as an effort to “respond to the hundreds of people who have formed their own community safety patrol systems to keep their blocks and their neighborhoods safe in this time of deep transition.”
She and nine of her colleagues voted in favor of adding the provision to the 2020 budget. On Wednesday, after residents and reporters contacted city officials seeking details about the proposal, the council walked it back.
Ahem. I myself am a lawful owner of firearms, properly authorized to carry in public. However, that does not make me a Junior G-Man, nor does it make thousands of other lawful gun owners in the state qualified to keep the peace. We have the necessary training to use our firearms wisely and to understand the legalities of lawful self-defense, but that’s it. None of that training had anything to do with detaining suspects, understanding probable cause or distinguishing it from reasonable suspicion, nor any of the other legal niceties that protect civil rights while also protecting a community.
One has to go to law school to learn those — or a police academy.
Not to mention, attempting to navigate those issues as a private citizen would leave me personally liable for any mistakes made, even in good faith. That would be true even if I was unarmed and attempting to patrol streets in Minneapolis, which would be an even crazier proposition. Anyone who agreed to this kind of arrangement in replacing the police would have to be either certifiably insane or have staggeringly bad judgment … neither of which offers much hope for their ability to patrol neighborhoods.
When the city council first said that they would abolish the police, I warned at the time that the vacuum of legitimate law enforcement would promote vigilantism. Little did I know that the city council would subsidize it.
The Star Tribune notes that the city council seems to be out of rational ideas about how to make their no-policy fantasy into reality, which is how vigilantism nearly got a $500,000 grant and endorsement:
The change reveals how the City Council is struggling to come up with alternatives to the Minneapolis Police Department, even as a majority has vowed to end it. Council members and city staffers have, at times, found themselves unclear about what various proposals mean, even after they have voted on them.
In other words, the city council is completely incompetent, and now obviously so. This would qualify as satire if not for the lives that have already been lost and the lives that will be lost in the near future due to their failures to perform their basic duties as public officials. The city council is responsible for the police department and its performance, but they do not want Minneapolis residents to realize that. Instead, they want to pretend that a modern city of 425,000-plus residents don’t need law enforcement, mainly because they want to abdicate their own responsibilities for managing it.
Minneapolis is a home-rule charter city, so the state doesn’t have too many options in dealing with this disaster. The city’s voters will have to act to put an end to the circus they elected. In the meantime, the cities around them will have to deal with the fallout — and business owners will start looking elsewhere for better environments in which to operate.