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Minneapolis City Council members announce intent to disband police department (theappeal.org)
327 points by smaili 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 375 comments

"Dissolve the organization and start over from scratch" is an under-used solution in American life, even in the private sector.

Apparently Camden, NJ did a version of this in 2013 with a fair amount of success: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-04/how-camde...

The Camden thing is going around a lot but to me it seems like they did a reorg and actually ended up hiring more police.


Realistically, that's what will come from "abolishing" the police.

That's not necessarily a bad thing! A big problem with existing departments is decades of corruption, poor leadership, and entrenched policies. Tearing the department down and rebuilding it from scratch—even if you end up with a similar size as before—gives you the opportunity to remove the excesses/abuse. You can also do things like hiring more specialized positions and firing all the bad officers (because if the department is gone, the union can't protect them).

> poor leadership, and entrenched policies

This is underappreciated. It's hard to seriously change organizations in less than a decade when employees have long tenures.

Opinions and behaviors are only truly malleable at the beginning of careers, and later change is fighting against the inertia of old timers' "Let me tell you how it's done."

Which isn't only negative. Esprit de corps is what holds together people doing tough jobs for long careers.

But if you want to say "No more of that. Now we're doing this" then a rebuild isn't a bad idea.

How would they go about doing this in practice? Are they going to fire the entire police force, and recruit new people from scratch? If that is the case, can the current cops apply? How would they make sure bad cops from the current force don't get recruited again?

A simple first step would be to maintain a national level open registry of fired cops and bad behavior reports. At minimum, if a cop gets fired, then he can't go to the next county and get a job

> A simple first step would be to maintain a national level open registry of fired cops and bad behavior reports. At minimum, if a cop gets fired, then he can't go to the next county and get a job

This is the kind of baby steps solution that is completely not the answer even if it's part of a solution for one of the problems. This is systemic and with strong opposing forces (current police officers and their unions, as one example), you can't believe that a database of bad cops would be enough if they aren't even being fired for the abuses being committed right now, if there is already a system of protecting bad police officers why do you believe that they simply wouldn't fire or prosecute even less abuses to avoid a harsher punishment?

I've not researched enough to delineate a step-by-step process of dissolution of the police but there are enough parallels in history and similar experiences to be studied.

The little I've read about seem to include that previous police officers can re-apply but would need to go through the new revamped hiring process. Such hiring process would be defined by citizens' organisations, experts, human rights organisations and so on. There is enough scientific knowledge in that, there are enough police services in the world that use them, it's a matter of shaking the status quo and removing the old roots that US policing stems from.

This can't be achieved by steps if the roots of it are deeply rotten, you gotta understand that.

I think applying to cops something along the lines of what we have for professional engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. could be a solution.

All cops nationally would be required to have a license from this organization in order to do some "reserved acts", like arresting someone, using force, firing a taser, etc. Any complaint about cops would be evaluated by this organization, and could result in the suspension / revocation of their license. There would be a strong emphasis on deontology, and the organization's explicit mission would be to protect the public.

This would probably have a similar effect overall to what you're describing, but it'd be more of a whitelist than a blacklist.

I tweeted about this a week ago being from the area. It helped the city get rid of officers that the police union were protecting not fire-able. Further, it helped the city (which had declared bankruptcy) get rid of police pensions negotiated decades ago that were draining city coffers.

How does firing people get rid of pensions? That sounds pretty wrong - punishing every cop by taking away their pension because of the act of one? Why would anyone join the police at all if that's possible?

Lots of people work at jobs that don't provide ludicrous pensions.

I don't think anyone is against more police, but rather the tactics used and how that money is spent. Twenty years ago, police deploying tasers was an outlier. In 2020, it's become normalized and happens thousands of times a year. There's no reason we can't have better trained, restrained police at the same or greater budget. It's the tactics that are in question, and qualified immunity which allows bad actors to do as they please with little-to-no impact to themselves (thanks to local governments picking up the tab).

Let's not pretend we didn't just see 57 police officers resign from a volunteer position because two of their own were caught on camera pushing a 75-year old man to the ground and held accountable because "just following orders".

Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm against more police. I think communities would be better served by an increase in social workers in most cases. Drug usage and homelessness won't be solved by imprisoning people and forever branding them as criminals. You need bridge housing, treatment programs, and services for these people. And an educational system that is well funded, regardless of the community it serves. I think criminalizing social issues has proven to be pretty ineffective, generally harmful, and really expensive. I'd recommend checking out "The End of Policing" for a thoughtful, well-reasoned argument for decreasing the number of police. The ebook is free: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing

I am fine with more police if we entirely redefine police to mean social workers, counselors, community assistants, etc.

And if they didn't carry guns nor drive unmarked cars. Police should be seen and they should be seen interacting positively with the community, not patrolling in a gradient of (un)identifiable vehicles.

I live in a country where most of this is true.

Unfortunately, there are now so many care workers that many people with issues are getting fed up with all the people that come to their house for all kinds of help (think a care worker for finance, one for mental issues,one for physical issues,one to help the person get back to work, one for the kids etc. etc.)

So if there will be a shift from 'police as is', to more like a care worker system, this would be something to consider.

But other than that, it seems to work well. The police is considered your friend. They pretty know each of the people that have issues or who ever committed crime.

They continue to offer help to them,but will make sure they also get off the streets when they become a potential threat.

There continues to be a lot of criticism from certain groups within our country that wants the police act tougher, but I think the majority of people are happy with how the police does it's job here.

There is also a wijkagent - "neighborhood cop". Actual policeperson (with gun and all) that has "office hours" when they are walking around the neighborhood talking to people (even just for a chat) at the playgrounds, business owners and so on. People come to them with problems. There is a website where you can look up wijkagent for each neighborhood. Sometimes they're also active on Twitter, FB... Works quite well

It's very important that police is connected to the community they police, and cares about that community. My impression of police in the US is that that is rarely the case in cases where this police brutality occurs.

I'm fairly happy with Dutch police. They're visible and approachable. They're not perfect; there was a case in the 1990s where they cracked down unreasonably hard on a peaceful student protest. And in that case, it turned out that many of those cops were indeed looking forward to a fight, which is a dangerous and harmful attitude. Those instances are fairly rare, though.

Even so, no tear gas, no beatings, and despite the protesters resisting as much as they non-violently can, the police are not using any violence beyond pulling and shoving them into the bus.

I was thinking more of this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIwrdriLiZc

(It's surprisingly hard to find anything online about events before 2004. This was all over the news at the time, but now it looks like it never happened. My quality newspaper lacks proper archive functionality for searching more than a year ago. Search engines and Youtube have never heard of this, frequently returning 0 results.)

What country do you live in?

The Netherlands. I assume for some more Northern European and Scandinavian countries it's about the same.

I am an American living in Netherlands, and policing is very different here. Think Dutch police (or at least Amsterdam police) have a much more positive impact on neighborhoods than American police (or DC / San Francisco police). I have seen more mediation and deescalation between neighbors from police in a few years in the Netherlands than decades in America.

This is a tangent, there also seems to be way, way less paperwork in routine police work in the Netherlands than in America.

Those aren’t police. They are part of the social safety net and community wellness.

How would you ask a police officer to react to a criminal brandishing or firing a gun in public or at him?

How would you ask detectives to work cases against gang leaders if they cannot conceal their identity?

@malnourish has a good point, though. Quite often police respond to calls that require a social worker or mental health professional. And in some of those cases, the police decides that a bullet is the best solution to the problem that they are equipped to provide. Many problems require very different solutions, and many police officers are not equipped to provide those solutions. That is a major problem.

Either police officers need to be trained as social workers and mental health professionals, or part of their work needs to be taken over by those that have that training.

Immediately stained by the simplistic naievety of:

> And if they didn't carry guns nor drive unmarked cars.

Except this is how many other countries work, so how is it even remotely simplistic or naive?

What 'many other' countries?

Every country has unmarked cop cars in use alongside high visibility marked cars. Every country has armed officers in addition to unarmed officers.

Given the US has liberal gun laws, how would that even work? It's shortsighted & reactionary unless you want people who are already in dangerous situations to be lambs led to the slaughter because you'd like to think you live in a unicorn reality.

> Those aren't police

... from Latin politia "civil administration," from Greek polis "city"

I agree with all your points; and while we’re on the subject of optics reform, I have an entirely unsubstantiated pet theory that if we made police uniforms pink, we would see abuse of power drop substantially - the idea being to create a very different (visual and emotional) image of what a police officer is and what they do, and the pink specifically serving the dual purposes of a) reminding police that their job is less about force and more about supporting the community, and b) filtering out any men whose sense of masculinity is so withered/warped that they’d take issue with the standard uniform of a highly-esteemed servant of the community.

> I think communities would be better served by an increase in social workers in most cases

I couldn't agree more. I think there's an appropriate ratio of police/population, though I don't think I'm even remotely qualified to speak on that subject. But when I think about the "police/prosecutorial/prison-industrial complex", I can't help but hope that the only real path to a long-term solution is actually giving a shit and genuinely wanting to help people get better, vs "justice".

One thing that must happen is we must impose enhancements to penalties for crimes committed by law enforcement/police.

Assault, battery, theft, etc., by a police officer is inherently worse than that by an ordinary citizen. They have abused the immense power, privilege, and trust of their position and there should commensurate consequences.

NPR carried a segment talking about making free market liability insurance mandatory for police, with departments only paying the average rate.

There needs to be a neutral third party to assess risk, because all of the current stakeholders are biased (executive government, judicial government, community organizers, police unions).

What about paying it out of the pension fund that way they police their own? Dump public sector unions (who organize against the people) as well.

> Let's not pretend we didn't just see 57 police officers resign from a volunteer position because two of their own were caught on camera pushing a 75-year old man to the ground and held accountable because "just following orders".

I have a slightly different take on this, and to be clear, seeing that video was absolutely shocking and made me feel nauseous and even light-headed.

The officers were part of a unit that was specially trained by FEMA to do exactly what they did;

> "The unit’s training is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA’s, Field Force Operations course. It’s a three-day training which covers skills including baton-holding positions, mass-arrest procedures, and riot-control formations, according to the website." [1]

Suspending the officers is deflecting the blame from where it really lies. The state (politicians) deployed that team to do exactly what they did, and knew or should have known that people would be hurt as a result of those tactics.

I guess you could imagine some sort of active riot scenarios where people are under attack by a mob, and where those tactics are specifically necessary to essentially rescue hostages..., but the situation they were actually deployed into was not remotely that from what I understand.

I think of it this way. When we look back at Tienanmen Square, do we blame the person driving the one tank at the front of the column, or do acknowledge that every driver in every tank was not strong enough to refuse to follow those orders, but ultimately the leaders of the regime are to blame.

That's why I think making the story about the officers is actually missing the point, and further blaming the other 57 officers who resigned doubly-so. The officers are resigning because they are being hung out to dry to take the blame for the leader's mistakes. I was hoping to see the "57 officers resign" story used to pivot the blame onto the police and political leadership rather than reinforcing the notion that the blame is just on bad actors / bad apples.

There are systemic issues with the system, and this is a perfect example of where officers are being trained to act in exactly the wrong way, and then being deployed inappropriately. These weren't rogue officers. The criminal case to charge is not so much assault by an individual officer, but reckless endangerment by the people who made the decision to deploy an aggressive riot control team out into the general populace.

[1] - https://cdp.dhs.gov/find-training/course/PER-200

> When we look back at Tienanmen Square, do we blame the person driving the one tank at the front of the column, or do acknowledge that every driver in every tank was not strong enough to refuse to follow those orders, but ultimately the leaders of the regime are to blame.

Both. It's the whole "just following orders" thing. It's not an excuse. You (the officers) know for a fact that it's wrong to push a 75-year old man down to the ground like they did. You don't need anybody to tell you that, and no training manual is going to tell you that it's ok or not ok to do so.

The 57 officers resigning, good. They aren't quality police officers that we need on a police force. It doesn't matter what training tells you - and if they can't see that, then good riddance. There are plenty of people out there who can make fine police officers.

Lots of people are against more police. Those take up between 50-70% of the taxes is many communities.

They did a more than just a reorg.

Disbanding and replacing a PD eliminates the old police union contracts.

Those lopsided contracts are at the root of the impunity and violence we've seen over the past week.

Many cities have made extraordinary contractual concessions, including:

- Secrecy clauses. Officer Bob might have 31 excessive force complaints against him, but the city is contractually forbidden from making that information public, or in some cases even retaining the records after X months.

- Arbitration for firing. Those clauses can be shockingly strong. The Philadelphia PD fired an officer for having Nazi tattoos. They were forced to reinstate him after arbitration. https://twitter.com/dburbach/status/1269638494466514955

Those clauses and more often add up to police that are effectively unfireable and therefore not under meaningful civilian control. Witness the head of a NYC police union taunting the mayor and openly flaunting the Right to Know Act / announcing that officers will be covering up their badge numbers.

Camden got a start fresh with no pre-existing police contract. For many cities, that's potentially worth a lot.

I don't understand why there isn't a professional license required for LEOs.

I'm a paramedic. If I harmed a patient once (let along 31 times), my card would get revoked and that would be that. A cop, meanwhile, is likely to face no consequences at all, and in the absolute "worst" case scenario, they would just get a job in the next town over.

Paramedics and police are at opposite ends of the union representation spectrum. Paramedics have no union and are thus treated like livestock. The police have the strongest unions in America and are thus largely untouchable.

> If I harmed a patient once

You're conflating allegations of harm vs harmed. Given your position is just assisting the person and not enforcing the law(which the person does not want the cop to do against them), you are magnitudes less likely to have allegations made against you.

Allegations aren't an objective historical fact. They can and are used to spite.

Apples and oranges.

I'm not talking about allegations. I'm talking about confirmed incidences of bad behavior that result in, at most, a short suspension.

The line in parent comment is:

> Officer Bob might have 31 excessive force complaints against him

A complaint is an allegation. It's not a confirmed incidence of bad behaviour.

Using Chauvin as example (17 complaints), From WAPO:

> A summary of the complaints against Chauvin posted by the department offers no information on why they were filed, and police declined to comment on the nature of the cases. Sixteen of the complaints were closed without discipline. The remaining complaint resulted in two letters of reprimand against Chauvin, according to the summary.


A letter of reprimand for excessive force should be the end of a police office's career in law enforcement (a similar incident would certainly be the end of my time as a paramedic).

They literally graduate from a Police Academy. Didn't you see the movie?

That academy doesn't result in a revocable license, managed by some external body (like the state Department of Health, in my case)

In many states there is.

It’s important to note these provisions are given to police in lieu of salary increases. Citizens and elected officials could choose to raise police wages, attract better candidates and not substitute legal concessions for salary increases. When cities are trying to cut costs, these “free” provisions can seem like a no brainer, as opposed to giving in to wage increases.

1. I don't begrudge the police union for negotiating for all this. It's their job, just like it's the job of my city to play hardball with negotiations.

2. Police are some of our best paid public servants.

Hiring more police is not a problem, as long as you fire all the old dysfunctional police, and get rid of all the mechanisms that kept dysfunctional police in place for all those years.

If you fire tons of bad cops and you want good cops, you're going to have to hire them.

the goal was not to have less police

A lot more crime happens, nobody reports it though. Just like in the Bay Area for car thefts. Very underreported because we are discouraged from making reports and after the 3rd break in, don’t even bother reporting. Everyone using Camden as a success on Social media is mistaken.

Poor people hurt the most, while rich and upper middle class likely never has to call the police

Armed police roaming the streets don't solve car break-ins. I specifically mentioned car break-ins in my comment below[1]. I want the police department as we know it to be disbanded so we can have real solutions to real problems.

No one is saying stop solving crimes. Minneapolis may disband their police department, and get out of the union contract. But they aren't going to stop solving crimes. The lack of crimes being solved currently is explicitly mentioned as a reason for disbanding current police department, and looking for smarter solutions.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23451939

Armed police who are specifically ordered to not interdict fleeing property criminals (the rule of engagement for most Bay Area police departments) and not respond to break-ins at all, even for fingerprints certainly won't solve car break-ins.

So, you end up with stupid posturing shit, like having two units sit in their cars with lights flashing, stationary, in one mostly-empty parking lot a night, like SCPD does by the Chili's on El Camino near Lawrence.

Do you have a source/link about Camden?

Indeed, Americans need to realize that almost everything about our society is a bad first draft, in need of prompt replacement. People reflexively defend existing institutions, but the more I've thought about it over the years, the more I've realized there's almost no aspect of American life worth preserving. Police departments might be a good place to start, but most American cities also need to address structural deficit, disposable built environments, persistent segregation, absurd jurisprudence, and more.

>but the more I've thought about it over the years, the more I've realized there's almost no aspect of American life worth preserving

There is so much about America that is worth preserving. One easy example right off the top of my head is the law and culture that enables people to peacefully demonstrate like they are today. Even discussing the idea of doing this in many countries could get you killed - or worse! That's another amazing thing (again, just off the top of my head), in America the worst punishment we have is death, and even that is outlawed in many places. The idea of an internment camp[0][1] is not even considered.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps

[1] https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/9/17/20861427/india-...

Sure, we don't _currently_ have internment camps, but we used to have them and the current president, when asked point blank by Time magazine, refused to rule out using WW2-style internment camps for muslims. So there's that.

Freedom of expression is one of those things that I'd prefer to keep, but we can see that it is stronger on paper than in practice. In practice, if you gather in the capital city to bring your grievances to the government, unidentifiable mercenaries will gas you. And if you are a journalist reporting in front of your local police station some cop will shoot you in the head with "non-lethal" rubber ball, leaving you without eyes, or teeth.

It is the institutions of American that need to be dismantled, because are an implementation that doesn't reflect the founding ideals of our country.

Those are for people who are specifically not here legally and therefore don't recieve the full protection of our constitution and laws. While I vehemently disagree with these camps, there's no reason to assume a re-born America's laws would apply to people who are not citizens/legally accepted into its borders. A fix for these camps would be to guarantee the same protections we Americans enjoy to people who come here illegally, which can be accomplished using the current framework we have today.

> Those are for people who are specifically not here legally and therefore don't recieve the full protection of our constitution and laws.

What's the point in calling them 'human rights' if they only apply to Americans. The US Bill of Rights does not make any reference to citizenship or legal immigration status in the 6th or 8th amendments (which seem particularly relevant). Not to mention you still need due process to prove the person does not have legal immigration status in the first place.

There isn't really any ambiguity here, unless the law specifically targets citizens or people with a valid legal immigration status the law protects illegal immigrants as well.

I'm not very well versed in US law but it's my understanding you can't shoot a man down in the street for jaywalking because he's a criminal and thus not protected by the law.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

The term "human rights" do not appear anywhere in the constitution.

It doesn't, but the US Constitution still defines human rights within the jurisdiction of the United States.

The word 'comment' doesn't appear in your comment, but that's still what it is.

It does not define "human rights". It defines some legal rights of people within the jurisdiction of the document - not some global notion of "human rights"

Human rights are legal rights. Human rights vary by jurisdiction. For example, the The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) administers Ontario provincial law.


> legally accepted into its borders.

You should read up on who's in these camps. Most are asylum seekers. Applying for asylum is legally recognized under the Geneva Convention. Hell, I just watched a documentary where an asylum seeker was asked to come to the Tijuana/SD border for his asylum interview, thrown into detention ICE, and then transferred from one center to another before finally being deported a year later. He was imprisoned for asking for asylum, not being in the US illegally.

  Applying for asylum is legally recognized under the Geneva Convention
Only at the first border reached. So, only Canadians, Mexicans, and those coming by water directly from their nation of origin are even theoretically eligible.

People on HN thrown "Geneva Convention!" (sic) around like it's a magic amulet. There are multiple conventions with multiple articles, and the USA isn't even a signatory to all of them. When people argue random Geneva Conventions nexus for some element of policy without stating a specific Convention and Article, assume that they're bullshitting you. It's like a lazy Support rep saying, "it's in the manual... somewhere."

What's the documentary?

I watched it at the last film festival: http://thirdhorizonfilmfestival.com/films/what-happened-to-a...

The tile is What Happened to a Dream Deferred. During the QandA the director told us how she had to get involved because the subject that applied for asylum was arrested at the interview. Then moved through many detention camps. This is done so their immigration lawyers can't find them and represent them during the hearings. I found this to be really shocking.

There is ongoing legal debate on what aspects, including these very ones, of our constitution and laws apply to non residents.

> Those are for people who are specifically not here legally and therefore don't recieve the full protection of our constitution and laws

Do you have a citation on that? I don't think that's true. ICE detains a lot of people here legally, including citizens.


Regardless, ICE should be obeying international laws for human rights, which they are not.

It seems to me that ICE is meant to intimidate entire groups of people regardless of their citizenship or legal status.

I can only assume you've awakened, Rip Van Winkle style, from a extended sleep - not only one so long you missed dozens of people getting severely assaulted by the police and hundreds of people being held for extended periods of time (>24 hours) without charge, but so long that you apparently also missed the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.

You also missed Trump musing on the idea of Muslim internment camps, so "not even considered" is a long bow. We might also include "kids in cages" while we're at it.

There are plenty other worse countries, but this seems like a rather low standard for a victory lap ("Freer than China! Less repressive than Belarus!").

> One easy example right off the top of my head is the law and culture that enables people to peacefully demonstrate

If you compare that right to any other country in the West, it doesn't look so peaceful and free.

Scores of videos in the last week show police brutally beating regular citizens who have assembled peacefully. Recent events are proving the First Amendment sounds great on paper, but is utterly worthless when people actually try to exercise that right.


What does that have to do with

"Scores of videos in the last week show police brutally beating regular citizens who have assembled peacefully."

Those are two different groups of people.

Time to choose a priority: more important to stop the roadside executions of Black people by cops, or to stop 'looting'?

>the more I've realized there's almost no aspect of American life worth preserving

I would suggest living in a third or second world country without outside support. I had your same mindset, and did that for a few years. I could not wait to come back.

Even so, the third world is not our standard. We’re ready for the version two improvements by virtue of the iterative process, and our own expectations for ourselves.

Actually it was living abroad in a third world nation that soured me on America. Bringing my children back to the USA was painful to me and disappointing to them.

Which nation was this?

Have you ever really tried one for yourself?

East Berlin used to be second World, but many of my American friends moved there because they were tired sick of being harassed by their own country brutality and would never go back.

Even many African countries are safer than the US if you are black.

On the other side, one of the most annoying kind of tourist you can find in my city, which is Rome in Italy, are Americans.

They lack the basic notions about "respecting others cultures and habits"

I sure have, Venezuela. No water, constant power failures, gas at 8-12 USD per gallon (controlled by the military police$$$, though that is a recent development), minimum wage at 5USD per month. Food at international prices. Basically non-existent judicial system. Police brutality several notches above what you see in the US.

So out of the 200+ countries you could have compared the US to you chose a failed state. There are many other 3rd world/developing countries who have fully functional governments.

Obviously not every other country is the same. The situation is not that the US does everything one way, and the entire rest of the world does it another way; there are about 200 different countries, and they all do things differently in some ways. Some countries get most things right, some get most things wrong, but most countries get some things right and some things wrong.

There's a lot to learn and improve by looking at how other countries solve their problems.

This was also the topic of Michael Moore's Where To Invade Next. Instead of taking other countries' oil, the US should take other countries' ideas, and Moore had a couple of suggestions for interesting ideas from other countries, like school lunches from France, prison system from Norway, etc.

Bullshit. If you had really lived there, you would know that Venezuela's problems are mostly caused by USA-imposed sanctions. The police are so "brutal" that they have let the would-be coup leader and CIA contractor Juan Gauido prance about the nation unmolested for a couple of years now. How many poor black Venezuelans have died under the knees of Venezuelan cops in the last month?

I like how you used the phrase “second world.” Most people have forgotten that’s a thing. Now it’s just Belarus.

Or even Western Europe. I’ve lived in the UK, and it absolutely gave me an appreciation for many aspects of American life.

For example, municipal government and school boards. Yes they can go bad. But as the protestors in Minneapolis are showing, the city is extremely responsive because it is local.

If there was a similar protest in Birmingham (UK), I can’t imagine the city disbanding the police department under any circumstances.

It might result in parliament taking action. But the idea of independent municipal government is very lacking.

Municipal governments in England are very much subordinate to Parliament.

There’s a reason Blair was so pathetically and stupidly pro-American. America actually has a lot to offer.

Not my America. It has problems, sure. But it's the place where people line up to get in. The place where multinationals that hire lots of international colleagues are headquartered. A super-power, and one that has good intent at least as much as any other super-power.

I'm proud of my America, even if it does have warts (some of them ugly.) I have confidence we'll get better in the future.

big surprise, somebody at hacker news who hates america and says none of it is worth preserving.

And I guess I could say the same about every country in Africa. NOTHING WORTH PRESERVING. Oh look suddenly people have their eyes bulging out.

We dissolve things a lot. Building them is another matter entirely.

It’s possible the PD will be rebuilt in a nicer form, but that’s not guaranteed.

It’s just as likely the PD will be absorbed into the County Sheriff.

Is the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office better?

I live in an area with a bad police department. I've never seen our police care about crime. To be frank, I'm not sure how I'd be any worse off without them. I suspect we need some of the higher-end investigative units (e.g. detectives who solve murders and similar), but the run-of-the-mill police units seems like a waste of my taxpayers dollars. I'd support disbanding our police in an instant.

They're very highly compensated too.

> Is the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office better?

Probably, at least in the case of the specific precinct that killed George Floyd.


> One officer kicked a handcuffed suspect in the face, leaving his jaw in pieces. Officers beat and pistol-whipped a suspect in a parking lot on suspicion of low-level drug charges. Others harassed residents of a south Minneapolis housing project as they headed to work, and allowed prostitution suspects to touch their genitals for several minutes before arresting them in vice stings.

> These and more substantiated incidents, detailed in court records and police reports, help explain a saying often used by fellow cops to describe the style of policing practiced in the Third: There’s the way that the Minneapolis Police Department does things, and then there’s the way they do it “in Threes.”

At least you can vote for the sheriff. Normal people have no say in who is the police union president.

Google up how Georgia completely disbanded its police, and remade it from scratch: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=484947...

I think firing the police force and starting from scratch is plenty reasonable, given the things I've heard. However, this reform sounds like it goes further and will change how law enforcement is handled in Minneapolis at a fundamental level. It's blowing away the entire organization, not just the staff.

I'll be very interested in how this works out for them and how similar the new solution ends up being to the old one. I suspect it won't be as different as many commenters are suggesting.

Have they released any details about how they expect the new solution to be different?

Camden is in the top 0.2% of American cities in terms of per capita crime rate, according to the googling I just did. Not a great recommendation there.

But this was true of Camden before its police reform as well. From the linked article:

> He led the city’s high-profile pivot to community policing from 2013 until last year and oversaw what turned out to be a steep decline in crime. Homicides in Camden reached 67 in 2012; the figure for 2019 was 25.

Wouldn't that suggest that the problem hasn't been solved? That there is some other issue?

I'm not familiar with Camden or the reforms, so maybe there are other metrics by which things have improved. However, "top 0.2% of American cities in terms of per capita crime rate" is an awfully condemning statistic.

> He led the city’s high-profile pivot to community policing from 2013 until last year and oversaw what turned out to be a steep decline in crime. Homicides in Camden reached 67 in 2012; the figure for 2019 was 25.

That's significant improvement. Waiting until you can "solve crime" seems unproductive.

There is a pretty big difference between "solving crime" and reducing crime rate to a more typical level.

The city had already started out with an extremely high crime rate and it dropped significantly after the PD was disbanded and remade. It hasn't gotten to typical levels but I don't think people are expecting magical results here. People want a useful police that treat them with respect and that doesn't use any opportunity to terrorize them and murder them. You know, like the police in every other first world country.

When it comes to code, I thought the consensus was strongly against that because it tends to introduce more problems than it solves.

I think a lot of it comes from opinion pieces such as this one https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/04/06/things-you-should-... which makes incredibly confident and general statements from a very small sample size, while there are many success stories of successful complete rewrites

Also, "Most software at Google gets rewritten every few years." https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.01715.pdf

> Also, "Most software at Google gets rewritten every few years."

That's hardly point in favor, given Google's "reputation" for long-term support and stability, and the sheer amount of engineers that they can throw at literally every problem.

I think consensus is that it depends on the code.

There's a consensus against pointless rewrites, but that's different.

> (They were initially nonunion but have since unionized.)

Fascinating parenthetical. Sounds like they dissolved the city PD organization and expanded the county PD. I don't know what Minneapolis plans here.

Consequences - we missed you.

Camden had the most violent crime in 2019 [1], but are around the 12th highest population in NJ in 2017 [2]. They are the 10th most dangerous city in the country [3] as of 2020 according to neighborhood scout. The FBI ranked it #1 in 2012. [4]

Yep, sure seems like a success story....

[1] https://nj1015.com/the-10-most-violent-cities-in-new-jersey-... [2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_in_Ne...


[3] https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/blog/top100dangerous

[4] https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2012/10/compared_to_cities_...

Not sure if you’re being sarcastic, but good stats. From #1 ranked dangerous country in 2012, a disbandment in 2013, and #10 today seems at least somewhat successful to me

Not sure how a steady decline in crime over a 10 year span is a failure!


Hasn't crime declined in a lot of places though? What's the control?

From tfa:

> Homicides in Camden reached 67 in 2012; the figure for 2019 was 25.

yes, I would call almost a 2/3rds reduction in homicides a success

Third most crime in 2019* whoops

We could use this approach with Google and Facebook.

Milton Friedman said one of the most important aspect of capitalism, more than the profit motive, was that bad companies are allowed to fail & better company can fill the need.

But bad companies keep getting bailed out.

It didn't work so well in Iraq.

That hardly seems comparable.

It's directly comparable. It didn't work so well in Ukraine either, which has an educated, Western society. They disbanded and "rebuilt" their police force to step away from Russian influences.

Corruption came back, but in the meantime, a lot of operation efficiency was lost.

Swapping out a police department is much like swapping out a dev team - you are losing a LOT of tribal knowledge, and you have few guarantees that the new dev team won't make their own, potentially different, mistakes. They also lack experience in the domain.

>It's directly comparable

How? Is Minneapolis also disbanding it's entire civil beaurcracy? Is Minneapolis also blacklisting the current police from other jobs? Are they letting the current police take home any equipment they currently have access to?

Your Ukraine comparison is slightly better, but "corruption came back" doesn't address whether the move was beneficial or not. Nobody expects the result of disbanding the police to be a perfect racism free police force.

We don't know yet, which is the point and why myself and others in this thread are expressing what would otherwise be considered useful and healthy skepticism. Given the general rhetoric of the activists, the scene with the Mayor yesterday when he said he doesn't support disbanding the police, and how easily an extreme position gets support online it's totally plausible that one of the conditions for "disbanding" the police and rebuilding it is that current officers are blacklisted from re-hire. The civil bureaucracy is up for grabs too, as the protesters announced yesterday their political goal is to remove the mayor from office. That may be the right thing to have happen, but thinking that the city's bureaucracy won't be "disbanded" and "reformed" is I think a bit naive. It's certainly possible.

>The civil bureaucracy is up for grabs too, as the protesters announced yesterday their political goal is to remove the mayor from office

The removal of one public official is nothing like the deBaath party decision. Acting like there is a possibility this situation mirrors Iraq is ridiculous.

Sure, I'm well versed in what happened in Iraq believe me. I'm not making a direct comparison here. I'm merely saying that a reboot of the civil bureaucracy is within the realm of possibility, not that we're going to see some kind of "deDFL-ification" of city hall.

They are not doing that to solve any real problems. They are doing that to calm down the mob.

Of course, but some people listening to the mob think it will actually do something.

In neither case did they do anything that police abolitionists are asking for.

Right, what they are asking for is oversight on budget and practices, except that doesn't sound nearly as exciting as "abolish the police departments!". If they are actually asking to abolish the police departments, that's painfully naive.

No, that's not what police abolitionists are asking for. That's what police reformists are asking for. These are not the same. I posted another comment on this post with plenty of references if you want to read up on the difference.

I mentioned this solution in a comment the other day. The NCAA gives sports programs the 'death penalty' when the 'loss of institutional control' [0] is so great the only fix is to disband and start over. Having it as an option is a good thing. The people in charge can't use an 'I didn't know' defense, because that itself is evidence of loss of institutional control.

[0] https://www.ncaa.org/governance/institutional-control

You'll see that sometimes too with Greek organizations at colleges.

I argued at the time the the "corporate death penalty" was the only appropriate remedy for the Equifax breach: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_dissolution

I also argued that about equifax. Corporate death penalty is extremely underutilized. Organizations die all the time due to missteps they inflict on themselves, it shouldn't be controversial to apply the same outcome when they inflict harm on others.

Or broken up and forced to sell to other orgs that can handle improving things from a security standpoint.

Decentralizing data rarely makes it more secure.

Not so much the data probably, but some of the services. I was thinking more business / consumer sides split. Of course given what sort of data shows up in my credit report (annoyingly outdated) I'd be okay with them being shut down too.

The problem with this option in the Greek system is that alumni come back and are welcomed with open arms.

Over free pitchers of beer the undergrads are regaled with tales of hazing and wild parties...giving them the template to start shit all over again.

Unfortunately, I fear that the NCAA no longer really believes this is a viable option for programs that are large enough. Penn State football should've been given the death penalty over the Sandusky scandal IMO, but I don't think we'll ever see a large football or basketball program ever get that kind of punishment again, unfortunately.

The NCAA should be given the death penalty https://deadspin.com/c/death-to-the-ncaa

The NCAA's only major death penalty was given to SMU and it devastated the local economy so much, with many restaurants, for example, going bankrupt, that they will never do it again. And SMU has been flagged for violations since then, also. The collateral damage is tremendous and the result after the calamity, as in Animal Farm, is not much different.

Additionally, "lack of institutional control" often means someone loses their career because of something done by someone else that took great pains to hide their malfeasance.

How do you quantify the damage to those harmed by the original violations? Isn’t that where the blame should be placed, on those who did the harm, which called for the enforcement?

"...MPD announced last year the discovery of 1,700 untested rape kits spanning 30 years, which officials said had been misplaced."

This leads me to think that there are some objective metrics by which a police department's performance can be measured. For a department to have 1,700 untested rape kits (vs. nearly 2500 rapes reported in 2019) seems outrageous, even if it represents a low percentage of total reported. Why wouldn't a police department ensure that every reported rape with evidence collected is properly followed up? They say many or all of these kits were misplaced, which simply leads to more questions about procedures, policies, and internal discipline.

It seems that a standardized approach to department evaluation and oversight is needed. Corporations employ internal accounting personnel, external auditing personnel, and then submit to audits by the IRS. If there were a similar approach to oversight for police departments, with data made transparent as it is for public companies, perhaps most those 1,700 women would have justice.

The rape thing is tricky though. Very unlikely they were really "misplaced". That answer sounds like an attempt to avoid the real, much harder discussions about the rape case pipeline.

Go investigate this for yourself if you don't believe me, but there are good and difficult reasons why very few rape cases go to prosecution. It's not a US problem or a Minneapolis problem, the same things are found throughout the world.

Core problem: a huge number of rape allegations are false compared to other crimes. It all starts from there. In anonymous interviews police will normally claim about 50% are false. There have been academic studies that reach similar numbers. There are also a lot of rather motivated studies that try to claim it's much lower, but when you dig into the methodology there are usually big problems and it's clear they've started with a pre-determined conclusion.

So how can a PD end up with 1,700 untested rape kits? Easy. A woman walks in and claims she's been raped. The police administer a kit. They also do a bit of investigation, probe her testimony a bit. She changes her story and renounces the claim. This happens all the time, it's an extremely frequent way for these cases to end. There are even pie chart breakdowns in some of these studies for the top reasons for renouncing an allegation, for example, it's often a tactic used as part of a fight, when the couple make up she goes and admits it wasn't true. Or the claims fall apart under investigation and she admits she was lying.

So the police shelve the kit. It's not worth sending it off to the lab when the claimant already did something that ensures no successful prosecution will ever occur. At the same time it's evidence so they don't destroy it.

One day someone finds the big pile of untested rape kits and goes crazy. OMG evidence of institutional sexism at the police, how can this be justified. Some police manager looks at the data for the reasons and decides "the kits are untested because we think 1,700 women lied to us" isn't going to go down well and doesn't want to start that argument, because a whole lot of very angry people, wrongly and delusionally, believe women never lie about rape. So they come out with this nonsense about them being "misplaced" and hope it'll blow over.

Low rape clearance rates are mentioned in the article as evidence of poor performance at this PD, but it's a bit vague as to what they mean. What you see though is that this particular crime has very low clearance and prosecution rates globally. When people drilled into loss rates at different parts of the case pipeline, they found there are no easy answers and no ways to change things beyond the obvious one of relaxing standards of proof to make it easier to put men in jail.

Unfortunately, the rape kit problem is much worse than you think.

[0] https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2019/07/nati...

It sounds kind of crazy on the surface but it makes sense - what else would you do if you completely lost faith in the police force to do its job effectively? It would probably seen easier to disband it and replace it with something else than to try and reform such an organization.

There's a severe financial side to it all as well...

The city budget funds the police, which funds the union, and they donate their money to the attorney general, mayor, and city council members. Often when they don't get the budget they demand, police will openly retaliate against local businesses and residents who did not support their budget.

Which is also exactly what the mob does.

I hope this closure impacts the union's finances severely, to the point of putting it on life support.

Police unions are the modern day mob, and they are the reason why reform hasn't budged in this country for decades.


> Unfortunately, the greater group of protesters is incapable of understanding nuanced policy or democratic change.

This is a totally uncalled for generalization. That aside, most of the items you've listed work against the policies that police abolitionists are fighting for. Here's a good explanation: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59ead8f9692ebee25b72f...

The doc is really weird. It picks and evaluates dimensions that obviously will improve after disbanding the police, but doesn’t try to address the question if the actual safety will improve. Instead it looks at whether disbanding the police will “ challenge the notion that police increase safety?” wtf. Also hard to believe that more training and bodycams have negative effect on actual quality of policing and safety. Any data to support this?

> Also hard to believe that more training and bodycams have negative effect [...]

The police use body cameras for real-time facial recognition of the policed [1]. It 100% has, and explicitly is, a negative effect. It was a right of center “reform” on the police that did nothing but further expand the power (and future of abuse of power) of our policing institutions.

[1] https://theintercept.com/2017/03/22/real-time-face-recogniti...

Now you would have to argue that real time face recognition is truly and solely a bad thing. If used correctly it can help reduce the violence in communities, catch child molesters, rescue kidnapped kids etc. Finally it would help defund the police as it can increase its efficiency.

only thing I can see facial recognition doing is causing police forces to constantly single out individuals for previous crimes by removing their anonymity from the police force.

this doesn't improve safety it causes a feedback loop where the person targeted will struggle to move to a normal life.

Just to be clear, I’ not in favor of facial recognition. However as a society we need to make informed decision and not to pick some random cons just to dismiss ideas that we dont like. I would be very disappointed if engineer, even junior, showed your attitude towards problem solving.

> I would be very disappointed if engineer, even junior, showed your attitude towards problem solving.

What attitude is that exactly? Some semblance of a code of ethics? I think you are drastically underplaying the "random con" of a realtime facial recognition surveillance network of body and CCTV cameras.

People have to be confronted with the use cases of the technology they build prior to building it. Ignorance, naivety, and a post-hoc "I didn't know it would be use as such" is just ethical negligence.

It sounds to me like you have no idea what's going on in Minneapolis. The city has passed laws to require those things. The police department has sued, stonewalled, and flat out ignored those laws. This is the next logical step - when they won't obey the law, remove them entirely.

A huge part of the problem in Minneapolis is the police union resisting any kind of reform. Unfortunately the most expedient way to get rid of the union is to fire _everyone._ Hopefully other police forces recognize this as a reminder to choose their battles more wisely.

Disbanding the force is more important than everything on your list.

As others have said, once you lose institutional control, and the mayor and the police chief have both effective said that they have lost this, than small reform don't matter.

Plus Minneapolis PD has a strong reputation as one of the most corruption in the nation.



It seems like the mayor and police chief should be voted out as well. If they cannot maintain control they should go as well.

I think you're missing some significant details. The NYT did a really good episode on it last week: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/podcasts/the-daily/george...

TL;DR When a cop is fired there are several safety nets that can reinstate them. If I remember right, the union reinstates ~45% of fired officers. Neither the Chief nor the mayor have the LEGAL power to even fire bad actors in the police department. They literally cannot do anything about the problem within the law.

I think you are missing what I am saying. The person I was responding to said the police cheif and mayor has lost control. If they have then they failed at their job and should be replaced.

This does not mean that other things should not also be done.

I beleive getting rid of / modifing the police unions would be beneficial. Fixing the whole qualified immunity issue would also be good. But I also think police need representatives to protect them from false accusations or from being railroaded. Maybe that is from a union or maybe its from something else.

All those things have been tried and reform is more limited. The biggest problem is that unions protect all the bad applies in "solidarity" so even with body cams and abundant evidence of brutality nothing happens.

If you actually think body cams help, ask yourself why Derek Chauvin felt comfortable murdering George Floyd in broad daylight while being filmed.

> Unfortunately, the greater group of protesters is incapable of understanding nuanced policy or democratic change.

Please elaborate.

That's so much of what a metropolitan police force does that that's functionally equivalent to a disbanding, assuming they don't all resign in protest of being held accountable.

Did you just advocate for tearing apart the current policing paradigm and then wind up with "Unfortunately, the greater group of protesters is incapable of understanding nuanced policy or democratic change"? That's a wild ride of a post right there.

How do you think what's happening will differ from what you're suggesting?

Reforming the police doesn’t work. It was tried in the 60’s and it only strengthened the policy and lead to the creation of SWAT teams, DEA, and a militarized police force. More info: https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2020/06/police-abo...

Good luck with that.

Many PDs have bodycams as-standard already.

Good cops love bodycams because the video footage exonerates them when something happens. Bad cops hate them.

- What happens when the bodycams are off? Is the officer fired and jailed?

- What happens when an officer fails the pysch eval? Are they fired?

- Who oversees the corruption reporting? How do you know they are not corrupt too? They surely can't be part of the police dept.

- Reduce/eliminate drug penalties: The problem is racism where drugs are often used as the excuse. Why is there no racism training in your list? Or de-escalation training?

> Unfortunately, the greater group of protesters is incapable of understanding nuanced policy or democratic change.

This is extremely rude and invalidating of large efforts put forward by the protesters to look at all options, think outside the box, and make real change. Some protesters have even been re-writing the police and city budgets themselves to see how things might turn out.

> What happens when the bodycams are off? Is the officer fired and jailed?

If an officer's bodycam is turned off and there is a confrontation, the officer should be assumed guilty in any dispute. It should be the officer's responsibility to ensure their bodycam works, just as it is the officer's responsibility to ensure their gun works.

They aren't even assumed guilty when they're filmed killing someone.

Yes, that's why I said should.

I think bodycams themselves are fantastic tools—but like most technology, they cannot by themselves fix a human problem.

Our system doesn't assume criminal guilt under any circumstances, by design, and that's a good thing. Everybody accused of a crime has the right to a trial, even cops.

Let me expand on what I wrote: From a professional perspective, you should be assumed guilty, and probably loose your job, if you are accused of something and your body cam was not on. Because even if the accuser is lying, why was your camera off?

From a legal perspective, I think a cop without a body cam should be given the exact same rights as a private citizen, including around the use of force. The right to use force comes with responsibilities, like having a body camera.

And when standing in court as a private citizen, a body cam which just happened to get turned off at the exact time of the incident should be viewed with extreme suspicion. Not proof in itself, but a very serious black mark.

That's not entirely true. There are a category of legal defenses called "affirmative defenses" [1] where you are presumed guilty and have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt something that makes your typically unlawful conduct lawful. Self-defense, insanity and fair use are common affirmative defenses.

I would expect affirmative defenses to be fairly common in trials involving police; there's typically not a lot of argument around whether an officer assaulted/killed someone, just over whether the use of force was authorized.

That being said, I would be more in favor of changing jury instructions to indicate that the lack of body cam footage can be seen as an incriminating factor. Not that it 100% means that they are guilty, but that it can be considered suspicious circumstantial evidence. Much in the same way that you cannot be compelled to self-incriminate, but that juries are allowed to interpret invoking the 5th amendment as incriminating.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_defense

What about adding mandatory personal liability insurance for all cops, just like what doctors have to pay into? Then when they mess up, they are personally on the line instead of the taxpayer.

It's not rude, it's a reasonable list of suggestions.

The statement "the greater group of protesters is incapable of understanding nuanced policy or democratic change" is extremely rude. It's also wrong. It definitely violates HN guidelines in at least 3 different ways.

They made a low-effort post of ill-advised, out-of-touch suggestions and ended with lobbing direct insults at huge swaths of people.

I highly recommend Jane Coaston of Vox for a follow. Her recommendations are:

1. End qualified immunity

2. Curtail the power of police unions

3. We need fewer laws

I don't think I could agree harder with this. It sounds like the "disband the police" movement is an elaborate implementation of #2. Now we just need #1 and #3.


Patrolmen shouldn’t carry guns. I know that wouldn’t have helped George Floyd, but we need to ratchet down societal acceptance of violence.

If a situation warrants firearms, it should at least warrant a radio call to the station for armed backup.

I don't think taking weapons away is enough. Police aren't trained to provide long-term solutions to domestic violence, homelessness, mental illness, or drug addiction, which are often tasked with solving. The typical solution law enforcement offers to these situations is to jail someone. Rightly, people don't want to go to jail and the situation escalates. And as we're witnessing all over the US, the police are often responsible for this escalation, and that escalation leads to violence.

I think we need people trained in non-violent intervention who can offer long-term solutions to the problems these people are experiencing. Why not just replace a patrolman with a social worker who can call the actual police should the situation escalate?

I don’t necessarily disagree, but I think a lot of the situations you describe need a peace officer with legal authority to arrest. They mostly don’t need deadly force, and I think the walking threat of deadly force that gun carrying cops represent changes the situation often for the worse.

Is she a journalist or a social/political activist? Shouldn't she pretend to have a bit of objectivity and not become part of the news itself?

Twitter has been the greatest tool to expose the news industry and journalists for what they are. Propagandists and political activists with an agenda.

That said, I agree with those recommendations. I'll add one more. Police departments should almost exclusively hire from the communities they "serve" and/or require police officers to live in the community that they "serve".

The idea that the corporate press has ever been different is a myth. Do you really think the corporate press gave Reagan a fair shake? Do you know the history of the bull shit William Randolph Hearst pulled? It's always been like this. It's just before we didn't have social media where they could be called out on their bull shit in real time. Coaston is biased but she's open about that bias and makes a noticable effort to be fair to her opposition.

This has sufficient public momentum to prove that a plurality believes the current system does the public more harm than good. Of course, removing cops will reduce harm done by cops to the public. But it will also reduce harm done by cops to law breakers. Intuitively, I would expect the law breakers to benefit disproportionately, since the cops stated mission was to prevent law breaking and all.

Statistics I've read suggest that US cities have been getting progressively safer over the past generation. It's interesting to wonder if our generation of safety has allowed us to forget that "order" and "justice" are not intrinsic qualities of humanity (nor any other animal group). Looking forward to seeing how Minneapolis will go about delivering consistent justice with no bad actors enforcing it. Will also be interesting to see which types of law breakers emerge as the winner from decimation of their traditional adversary.

"Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times."

– G. Michael Hopf

What are you trying to imply by Hard times create strong men. Hard times also create broken men.

Weak is not always bad. I don’t want “supposedly strong men” being so trigger happy , their happy dropping nukes on civilian because they couldn’t let go of their “strong” ego.

My comment was intended to be an agreement with GC’s second paragraph, which postulated that maybe these problems are partially caused by what is effectively complacency.

I did not come up with the phrasing of the quote. That being said, I'm fairly certain you are taking "weak" and "strong" more literally than the quotee intended.

I think it depends on how much crime was prevented by police, either through action (i.e. arresting someone) or by threat of action (i.e. police might show up).

Statistically, the chances the police in Minneapolis were going to catch someone who committed a crime against you are low. Using the 2011-2013 data from the FBI's crime report [1] (not cherry picked, it was the first available I could find, would love more up to date data), about 36% of murders were cleared. Property crimes are far worse, about 13%. So for murder, there is a 1 in 3 chance you got caught. For property crimes, roughly 1 in 8.

That's not a huge rate of getting criminals off the street. I don't know how criminals perceive the risk/benefit of those odds, and whether the drop will have a substantial impact.

My wild ass guess is that it won't shift the crime rate by an order of magnitude. I would be surprised if it doubled. I would expect the murder rate to stay nearly constant, and for property crimes to increase 30-50%. Broadly speaking, I would expect the number of people committing crimes to stay close to the same (maybe a slight increase), but the number of crimes per criminal to go up. There's still a finite limit to the number of houses you can rob in a day, though. Your chances of getting caught before were 1 in 8, even if there is no police, it only has a few percent to drop before we start hitting the bottom in the form of the percentage of burglars shot by homeowners.

I think the point is that we need to go easier on “law breakers,” at least the kind of law breakers who most often get the police called on them. For instance, there is no reason for someone who committed petty theft to spend years in jail or, worse, to be treated violently by the police.

> there is no reason for someone who committed petty theft to spend years in jail

Not sure what you specifically mean by petty theft, but maybe the answer is to just not steal. People need to accept personal responsibility for their actions.

The same argument applies to the police.

"Righteousness" has a way of blinding people to the abusiveness of their actions.

"Let me invent some moral principle to be violated, and when violated, permits me to abuse another however I wish."

I don't live in Minneapolis, and I don't know if this is the right solution or not. But what bothers me about what I've read so far, is they seem to have remarkably little details about exactly what they want to replace the department with. Exactly what does "community-led public safety" mean?

My understanding, based mostly on what I’ve seen on Twitter:

911 call -> Dispatch unarmed City employee, typically a social worker, who specializes in the relevant situation, population or neighborhood.

Goal is to assist the individuals involved, to be compassionate instead of punitive, to get to the root cause of the issue.

There is still some kind of armed security backup for the social worker’s protection in situations that do escalate.

That's admirable in theory, but sounds like a recipe for getting your head blown off. There really are unrepentantly awful people in the world, and sometimes we need to save innocents from them.

Community policing has been the basis of UK policing for the last 200 years.

The violent US model of presuming crime is about "saving innocents" is dramatically at odds with the US's exceptional mental health crisis -- which forms the basis of most of its community policing issues.

The lack of universal healthcare around mental health is a catastrophe. It's remarkable how tolerant US society is to overwhelming amounts of untreated mental health problems.

I used to regard UK policing, founded on the unarmed bobbie (sp?), with awe. The Rotherham scandal changed my thinking on that entirely. It's the worst failure of policing I've ever heard of, and seems to have caused by this sort of "light touch above all" trend.

Yes, "saving innocents" is the whole point of policing.

We may need to wait for the report to be clear on where the failures were, but there's lots going on there.

Part of the context of that has to be a pretty systemic UK-wide issue affecting public institutions where child-abuse was ignored. It's not clear that heavy-handed policing, in that context, would lead to a different result. It certainly wouldn't in many high profile cases, where police had been strongly encouraged to ignore the issue.

A lot going on, yes, but impossible to believe the police were not aware. In the US, if higher-ups tried to suppress this, it'd be leaked to the press, and all hell would break loose.

That's true and goes to my point. There's a classism at work here that isn't about the style of policing.

For the UK, class is the defining structural issue, not race. Journalists and the police have typically protected and respected the upper-middle.

That's interacting here with a police oversight in an usual way

>There really are unrepentantly awful people in the world, and sometimes we need to save innocents from them.

As we have seen, more than a few of them work in law enforcement.

On the other side of that extreme, you'll take cops filling innocent people with lead?

For every wrong shooting, there's what, maybe a hundred righteous ones? A thousand? Yes, I'll take it for now, and advocate for improvements.

How can you possibly think so when there are about 25 police killings in Germany in the last 30 years and about 25 police killings in the US in the last month?

Many people won't like this, but I cannot explain this phenomenon other than that it's the result of years of normalizing gun ownership.

Shootings are a very real and somewhat regular occurrence in the US. Here in Germany, it's literally not an issue people worry about. When was the last time you saw a gun anywhere in Germany? The majority of Germans would probably say in the holster of a policeman or possibly someone they know is a registered hunter.

Indubitably, the crazy amount of guns coupled with a tendency to romanticize them leads to policemen being more on edge and willing to pull the trigger -- because worst case, you have an armed loon in front of you that might just shoot first. The initially suggested idea of sending an unarmed civil service guy to de-escalate some situation sounds great in theory, but honestly I wouldn't want to be the guy trying to talk sense into an armed loon.

The fact that the above poster estimates there to be a thousand rightful shootings for every wrong one should really warrant the question of why there are a thousand shootings in the first place. That is not the norm.

> Shootings are a very real and somewhat regular occurrence in the US. Here in Germany, it's literally not an issue people worry about. When was the last time you saw a gun anywhere in Germany?

There was a shooting in February https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanau_shootings. Germany is also in the top 25 per capita for civilian gun ownership http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Pap...

My family is recently from Germany, and at least 50 years ago, they had an extremely strong culture of social order and obeying laws. I suspect variations in crime rates have a lot more to do with that than with differences in policing style.

It's not just Germany. Police killings are significantly lower in many many other countries compared to the US.

Arguably we have a lot of violent crime here, so that stats would need to be normalized somehow for that. But yes, US culture is different than a lot of other countries. I suspect policing style is more the effect than the cause.

Do you really think that's apples to apples comparison?

Perhaps consider reading "how to lie with statistics".

Going off the Washington Post's data, there were 1,003 police shootings in 2019. Before I break it down, these numbers overlap. If you want to see the non-overlapping data, feel free to check out https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/polic... and filter it any way you'd like.

55 of those were against unarmed people, and a further 29 were against people with toy weapons. So 84 of those were undeniably wrong.

334 shootings were against people fleeing the scene of a crime (by foot, car or other). I can't see any way that shooting someone fleeing the scene of a crime is not a wrong shooting. Perhaps legally, it is allowed, but I find that hard to morally justify.

200 of those shootings were people with mental illness, and I would question whether the police approach of shouting commands and waving guns exacerbated the situation. I will concede, though, that being mentally ill doesn't automatically make it a wrong shooting.

173 of those shootings were against people with knives. I would frankly expect police to have better solutions than shooting someone with a knife. Again, I can't say how many they could have resolved peacefully because I'm not going to read all the reports, but that seems high.

This is all to say, I think 100 rightful shootings per wrong shooting is high. Even if we only count unarmed or toy weapons as unjustified shootings, it's far closer to 10 rightful shootings per wrong shooting.

This is terribly naive and misguided towards the realities of violence.

> 55 of those were against unarmed people, and a further 29 were against people with toy weapons. So 84 of those were undeniably wrong.

What makes you believe that these were all undeniably wrong? Are you operating under some sort of Wild West moral code where you can't shoot an unarmed person? Reality is not a movie. If somebody twice your size is choking you to death, would you pray for a gun to stop them with, or say "he doesn't have a weapon so I'm not allowed to shoot him because reasons, guess I'll just die then"? I'm baffled that people continue to repeat this nonsensical thinking constantly.

People who have toy weapons and are shot by police are frequently shot because they did a very convincing job of making the toy look like a functional firearm and handling it as if it is real and they intend to shoot the officer with it. Could be suicide-by-cop or being stupid and assuming the cops will back off if they act scary enough, hard to say. Many imitation firearms are difficult to tell apart from the real thing even up close and calm in good lighting. If somebody is acting like they want to kill you and pulling what looks like a gun, you would be foolish to second-guess whether it is real, and you will be too slow and will likely be shot if it is real if you take the time to wonder.

Some of the people who are completely unarmed are also shot for similar reasons. Someone may not actually have a gun, but if, on a traffic stop, they stop suddenly in an unexpected place, dash out of the car while staying low and moving towards cover while trying to pull something out of your pants, you would be foolish to assume they don't have a gun.

Many situations similar to these can be and are de-escalated by skilled officers. Sadly, some situations are just hopeless, and some officers are not as skilled or patient as they could be.

Note also the reverse: If shooting someone who is unarmed is always wrong, no matter what they were doing at the time, is shooting someone who is armed always right? The police do encounter many armed individuals, and often manage to resolve the situation without shooting them. The situation and what the suspect is doing is what matters for justification, not what they are armed with.

> 334 shootings were against people fleeing the scene of a crime (by foot, car or other). I can't see any way that shooting someone fleeing the scene of a crime is not a wrong shooting. Perhaps legally, it is allowed, but I find that hard to morally justify.

Usually the legal standard is something like the police can only fire a gun at a "fleeing felon" if they can justify that his continuing to be at-large is a serious danger to the community. Sounds all right to me. I haven't reviewed all of those cases, but I'd bet that most of them are a lot more justified than you are imagining.

> 200 of those shootings were people with mental illness, and I would question whether the police approach of shouting commands and waving guns exacerbated the situation. I will concede, though, that being mentally ill doesn't automatically make it a wrong shooting.

Yup. I'm not a mental illness expert. Maybe some more cases could be successfully talked down by somebody with more skill. A lot of cases already are though, but they don't make it into these numbers. It would be nice if we could help everybody with mental illnesses in a better way, but unfortunately, some of them are just completely off the deep end, doing terrible things, and can only be stopped with lethal force.

> 173 of those shootings were against people with knives. I would frankly expect police to have better solutions than shooting someone with a knife. Again, I can't say how many they could have resolved peacefully because I'm not going to read all the reports, but that seems high.

You would expect wrong. I think you better watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upxfo_jBrDE There's a bunch more that show the same idea.

It's been tested a great many times that an attacker with a knife can close roughly 21' of distance and still stab a defender with a holstered handgun before the defender can draw and fire at the attacker. Note that the linked video considers the defense a "success" if the defender is able to get a round off at the attacker before getting hit with the knife, but guns are not death rays, and an attacker who has been shot, even multiple times, can still stab you to death before they have to stop or slow down.

> This is all to say, I think 100 rightful shootings per wrong shooting is high. Even if we only count unarmed or toy weapons as unjustified shootings, it's far closer to 10 rightful shootings per wrong shooting.

100 or higher is likely to be closer to reality for any reasonable definition of justified. Unless you do silly things like make blanket assumptions that any shooting of an unarmed person is unjustified.

An additional goal should be to de-escalate rather than escalate. Current policing emphasizes "escalation to violence" as the default tool that gets used during any confrontation, which has been on display for the last two weeks.

I agree. I'm worried they don't have any real plans yet. If they do, I think they need to be very public about them. It sounds like a lack of transparency was a core issue with the old PD.

I'm particularly worried that if this was voted on prematurely - before they were ready to deploy their new solution - that there might be some retaliation from the existing PD until the decision takes effect.

I'm also worried that "comminity-lead" implies a more political law enforcement organization. After all, sometimes what is "right" is not what is "popular" and I would hope that an officer is more concerned with the former.

It sounds like a euphemism for vigilantes, though I certainly hope that this is not what they intend.

Don't worry, private security contractors will step in and fill the void!

I'm from Minneapolis. This was necessary because the MPD has been out of control for a long time, but I too am curious what the actual plans for replacement are, or if this is just a restructuring.

Ultimately, protest leaders are building their goals and demands on the storied tradition of radical economic-political thought (more specifically anarchist and communist, to give credit where credit is due) and naturally the language they are using, like “community-led public safety”, is drawn from these international streams and their academic equivalents. Both anarchist and communist thought sees societal development as a science that can be predicted. They match moments of change (eg, the Industrial Revolution) to a linear (so-to-speak) slope, believing the future world that they have conceived of is certain to eventually come about.

Why is this so relevant now? We all see technology making advancements that are beginning to eliminate the need of human labor, a development that is majorly significant for those who subscribe to these theories. Recently, Andrew Yang's campaign focused on this merely factual development, bringing the idea to the forefront as a national discussion (this was extremely prescient and needed). Anarchists and communists start from this observation and conclude that eventually mankind's needs will be met without man himself exerting any labor.

In this view, once technology ensures all of mankind's material needs are satisfied, man will be left to engage in leisure and the creation and enjoyment of culture, art and literature, in a final utopian mode of life called "Full Communism". In this final state, the theorists envision no nations, no borders, no private property, no needed labor, and no "tyranny" of any man over another. That is, the goal of this final state is that no one individual will have any authority over another individual: here no man is a king and every man is a king. This is their conception of "freedom" and thus anything apart from this is "tyranny".

The theory is rooted in idealism, refusing to settle for the world as it is, but insisting on the world as it, in their view, could or should be. Subscribers to these theories adopt almost these exact words for themselves as a badge of honor or rallying cry. The practical problem with all of this is the inconvenient fact that, no matter the year and no matter the environment, man collectively refuses to act as they imagine he does. There remains perpetually some variable the theory cannot account for.

The theoretical problem with all this is an incorrect conception of authority. Nature abhors a vacuum; it happens to be likewise with authority. Eliminating the police does not eliminate authority. Because man seeks power, there is always someone who will take charge; the only question is whether those not in power have any right to recourse. Without an organisation that has a monopoly on the legitimate employment of violence (ie, the police), whichever group (in their terminology: "affinity group") is the most violent is the de facto authority. The theorists involved see nothing about the current system distinct from Hobbes' suggestion regarding pre-society, "In the state of nature profit is the measure of right". They think we are in that state of nature and the status quo forces have just happened to have, as a gang, clawed their way to the top. Believing the current system is nothing more than the outworking of an arbitrary thrashing-about, meant to impose arbitrary will, they see nothing wrong with eliminating it and beginning an even more scrappy and perpetually incomplete process.

The US has lots of different police forces – city police, county police, state police. Many other countries have more centralised policing with fewer levels. I think, a smaller number of bigger police forces might promote more professionalism, more professional management, oversight by more experienced politicians (state political leaders tend to be more experienced and capable than local political leaders, especially when talking about smaller cities). That would suggest abolishing city-level police forces and merging them into the county-level police force, even abolishing county-level police forces and merging it all into state police.

I am Indian, so I don't have an idea of the state of the administration/police in USA. However, I disagree that centralization is the solution. Accumulating power in hands of few is how you end up being a pseudo-democracy like India/Brazil/Myanmar.

By centralizing the police force, USA might end up might an entire state police force supporting a leader with autocratic tendencies, like what is currently happening in India.


In Australia, there are no local police forces (county or city), only state and federal police. In that sense, Australian police are much more centralised than US police. And yet, I don't think Australian police are overall significantly more corrupt than US police. (Yes, Australian police do have corruption problems; but more than US police does?)

Degree of police centralisation is similar between India and Australia. India does have city police departments, but they form part of and are subordinate to the state police, rather than being independent agencies like in the US–as such, the state governments exert more control over them than local governments. And Australian state police forces have local divisions too (Police Districts, Area Commands, etc).

Rather than India's police corruption problems being due to police centralisation, I think they are likely due to India's broader corruption problems, whose causes are much more complicated than anything merely to do with the organisation of its police services.

The problem is that there is no organization that is incentivized to uncover or investigate police crimes.

All other portions of government have cross-checks to stop people breaking the law. The police don't, and cover for one another.

There needs to be an organization that has clear and direct incentive to prosecute abuses by the police, that doesn't have a century+ long tradition of violence, selective enforcement, racism, and murder.

But it would seem far more feasible to build an organization like that to oversee one unified police force than to have n tiny organizations to oversee n small local police forces. If you'd try to mix levels (one central org cross-checking n small forces) everybody involved would inevitably confuse their role with a central coordination hierarchy and the original intent would get lost.

For the FBI, there is such an organization. The FBI Inspector General investigates malpractice committed by FBI officers. However, the scope of their ability to fix problems in the FBI is limited because prosecutors rarely take up cases against law enforcement. They also hold FBI officers accountable by writing reports for congress. Again, the usefulness of this is limited by the unwillingness of Congress to act on this information.

(Inspectors General exist for for every federal agency)

It has to be an organization separate from any specific police agency, with prosecutors solely devoted to prosecuting police crimes, complete with their bonuses and careers linked to convictions complete with scummy plea bargaining behavior.

There also has to be new crimes of negligence for things like 'body cam turned off' or 'records suddenly missing' and so on.

The state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia has a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) [1], which is a body legally separate from NSW's law enforcement agencies–NSW Police Force, which is the main state police force; NSW Crime Commission, which specialises in organised crime and other serious crime–and which is tasked with investigating law enforcement misconduct. (In Australia, there is no local law enforcement, only state/territorial/federal.) The LECC doesn't prosecute itself, but can investigate cases and refer them to state prosecutors for prosecution. It isn't perfect, but it is better than nothing. Maybe the US could copy the same idea?

(Also, separately from the LECC, there is also an Inspector of the LECC, whose job is to investigate misconduct by the LECC themselves.)

[1] https://www.lecc.nsw.gov.au

Part of me wants to ask “but who investigates the Inspector of the LECC?” But I’ve dealt with Elixir and I know that supervision trees rarely need to be very deep in practice

Where I live, County level officials are the folks who implement state policies. For example XYZ County Department of Family services investigate child abuse for the state.

We even have a saying “counties are merely agents of the state.”

This is a Midwestern thing. The south has strong, independent counties.

The moral is that States, counties, and municipalities aren’t just “levels.”

In my state, there really is no state government above the county level (outside the state Capitol that is.)

There is an exception for law enforcement: we have state troopers and state department of investigation.

Neither are a substitute for local police.

> county police

This is very, very rare.

More frequently, we have county Sheriffs, not police. And their duties are quite distinct; only recently have they come to resemble police.

Shrievalty is more concerned with the functioning of the courts: sometimes holding suspects before trial (and maintaining jail facilites), ensuring the security and order of the court, protecting jury members from violent coercion, capturing fugitives, etc.

Patrolling and "preventative" enforcement is not a traditional role for the Sheriff.

Country Sheriffs in the US appear to me to do a lot of policing work.

For example, Polk County Sheriff (Florida) seems to be busy arresting people for DUI – https://tampa.cbslocal.com/2020/06/06/sheriff-grady-judd-54-...

Sacramento County Sheriff's (Calfornia) has a homicide bureau – https://www.sacsheriff.com/Pages/Organization/CID/Homicide.a...

Erie County Sheriff (New York) has a drug squad which regularly carries out undercover buy operations – https://www2.erie.gov/sheriff/index.php?q=narcotics-unit

Washington County Sheriff (Oregon) has a traffic safety unit – https://www.co.washington.or.us/Sheriff/FightingCrime/Patrol...

Many US counties have unincorporated areas, in which county sheriffs have full police patrol responsibilities. Often, that authority also extends to incorporated areas (villages/towns/smaller cities) which are too small to have their own police departments and rely on the county for all policing functions.

Right right - as I said, "recently have they come to resemble police."

But I think that the distinction is still important as we talk about abolishing police.

Police, as an institution, are very new. Much newer than Sheriffs.

In Westerns, the Sheriff is investigating everything from petty thefts to murders. In many places, that was all the police they had.

Is that historically accurate? Pretty much, yes. The modern concept of a police force only began in the 19th century, and at first they only existed in larger cities.

As separate police forces were established, Sheriffs began to perform less policing functions, and yield more of that jurisdiction to the newly established police forces. But, in many rural parts of the US, county sheriffs are the only local law enforcement, performing all police functions, and the same was true 150 years ago. The innovation of separate police forces never arrived in underpopulated rural areas.

So I think the history is the opposite of what you think–sheriffs performing general policing functions actually used to be more common than it is now.

Congratulations to all who have fought against Police brutality, I hope this sets a new precedent. I'm not for abject destruction of people's property that we saw from a minority during these protests, but I'm in full support of People exercising their fundamental Human Right to protest.

> But if you want to say "No more of that. Now we're doing this" then a rebuild isn't a bad idea.

I just hope they have the foresight to put concrete measures that will deter Police from going back to the way things were, Andrew Yang proposed a bonus that departments gets pulled on the entire department if they get complaints of police abuse, therefore giving other officers the incentive to not put up with the 'blue shield' BS narrative that leads to corruption and violence.

I don't think its over until thus applies to the entire US police departments. I have not participated in these demonstrations, but I will play my part, too.

Another example of a relatively successful go at this but for a whole country - Georgia. https://www.u4.no/publications/police-reform-in-georgia-crac...

"Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis retreated on Saturday through a sea of protesters yelling, “Go home, Jacob, go home!” and “Shame! Shame!” after he refused to commit to defunding the Police Department."

He says no to the abolition of the PD, not defunding.

Shame mobs, bending the knee... it's like an episode of Game of Thrones.

What, exactly, does it mean to disband a police department? Fire everyone and hand over policing responsibilities to the state? Permanently or temporarily?

I can understand the sentiment of the people behind those writings, but it doesn't really answer my question. What will replace the Minneapolis police department if it's disbanded?

Many (most?) of its current responsibilities and funding can be given to social workers, traffic wardens, and other people not armed with guns, but that doesn't obviate the need for officers of the government to enforce the law. Laws can change and become less strict, but we will always need some form of police.

The answer is in the article itself.

The goal of disbanding the police is so that you can rebuild it from the ground up. It does not mean 'no police ever', it means clearing out the weeds by the roots so that they don't choke the new trees you're trying to plant.

guerilla's comment about police abolitionists says that the police would be abolished, that is, not exist anymore. That's not realistic, and I assumed "disbanding" meant what you said.

But how would that work in practice? What happens in the interim? Does another PD take over temporarily? Are any members of the old police force allowed to re-join the new one? What happens to cases currently under investigation?

I saw a comment that said that Camden, NJ disbanded its PD and the county PD expanded into the city, so I guess that's one option.

In Canada, if a city's police service is disbanded, I think the provincial police service (if there is one) or federal police will automatically take over. In Ontario, that would be the Ontario Provincial Police, but most of the country is policed by the federal RCMP (Canada has a single criminal code).

They didn't really have the county PD expand into the city. They created a brand new PD, rehired a lot of the old people, named it the county PD (I guess for optics), had new management etc, had drastically different training, priorities, slogans, etc that focuses on the community and not on murdering people when they twitch.

Abolishing the police means abolishing it. Nothing will replace it. Crime will be prevented by eliminating its causes and there will be some mechanisms to deal with last resort cases. The articles explain this.

I sure hope the mechanism for last resort cases isn't men and women in uniform with guns, because then social workers will be very unwilling to approach any potentially violent situation without the not-police-uniform-gun-men there.

Sorry to be cynical, just the experience of a police officer in a place where social services are funded far, far better than the US - police don't want to deal with mental health all the time, but being the agency of last resort makes it very easy to abdicate responsibility to.

Indeed, I think it helps to understand what police authority and responsibility is exactly and then one can more easily see what variations are possible. See my response to the comment sibling to yours.

> will be some mechanisms to deal with last resort cases.

Like police?

I read the article and Twitter threads. They don't explain it.

No, first, like re-callable community self-defense who would answer to competent managers of specific situations rather than being incompetent managers of situations themselves, be internal rather external to the community and be re-callable at any time rather than essentially having immunity.

It's a mistake to assume that police abolition means pacifism. It's also a mistake to assume the use of violence means policing.

Before you edited your post to fix your typo I thought that was a clever pun.

Just some tablet typing on the go :)

I think you would enjoy this book if you're truly seeking this knowledge.


The rest of the original title was, "[and] Invest in Proven Community-led Public Safety". That part may be even more interesting, at least on the surface. I'm really curious what it means. Minneapolis could become a testbed for radical new approaches to this problem.

A model for this is the PSNI in Northern Ireland. Irish catholic’s faced arguably worse racist violence from the Royal Ulster constabulary. Faith and trust was lost on both sides within the community. Seems to be working given that there’s been 19 years of peace over there.

To attribute the RUC->PSNI change(2001) as the reason for peace is wrong.

That change was on the back of a much larger, much broader set of changes brought in as a result of Good Friday Agreement in 98:


> Issues relating to sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice and policing were central to the agreement.

Didn’t suggest it was one thing. I just didn’t think in the context of this thread that the background was relevant. Can it not be a combination of things.? The good Friday agreement started the ball rolling the change to PSNI was one of the measures.

You implied it by omission

> A model for this is the PSNI in Northern Ireland

> Seems to be working given that there’s been 19 years of peace over there.

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