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Misinformation Clouds Discussion to Overhaul Police

A new Monmouth University poll found 77% of respondents believe that activists calling for police overhauls don't actually mean getting rid of law enforcement altogether. (Adobe Stock)
A new Monmouth University poll found 77% of respondents believe that activists calling for police overhauls don't actually mean getting rid of law enforcement altogether. (Adobe Stock)
July 10, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS - In the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, cities like Minneapolis are taking a long look at how their police departments should function. But the groups advocating for change say their arguments don't always get a fair look from the public.

The words "defund police" often come up, stoking fears of a lawless society. While some activists say shifting budget dollars is part of their proposal, the term doesn't always mean what it sounds like.

Sam Sanchez has been part of a movement focused on bringing more civilian oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department.

"Much like a school board, or the park board works currently in the City of Minneapolis," says Sanchez, "these would be elected officials from the community that would be in charge of all aspects of the police department."

Sanchez is an organizer with the Twin Cities Coalition for "Justice 4 Jamar," established following the 2015 fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. He says despite their main rallying cry, they also want to see less money spent on surveillance technology and military-style equipment.

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is evaluating a separate proposal to replace the force with the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. If approved, the plan would go before voters.

Supporters of that plan say it would dismantle the current police-department structure and de-emphasize use of force - but would still include armed, licensed peace officers.

Sanchez is somewhat skeptical of a massive overhaul. He says there could be unintended consequences.

"The nonprofit models that are being proposed right now, they say they're going to defund the police," says Sanchez. "Well then, what the question is - what happens to that money? They take that money and they take jobs from unionized workers, and they put them in nonprofit jobs that don't have a union."

Still, those who want the current force replaced with an entirely new approach say several past attempts to reform the department have failed. Another suggestion is that officers be required to carry their own liability insurance - which could deter companies from insuring officers who are prone to misconduct, making them unemployable.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN