A mayoral candidate is proposing police officers to leave their guns in their cars, but says it’s okay for them to have nightsticks or pepper spray.
Democratic Rep. Raymond Dehn’s proposal, a mayoral candidate of Minneapolis and current Minnesota state representative who is running against current mayor Betsy Hodges in this fall’s election, calls for drastic changes to the Minneapolis Police Department, starting with disarming police officers and encouraging them to use non-lethal force.
“I’m not saying they don’t have access to that, just like they have access to more lethal weapons in their cars, I would believe they would still have access to their guns in their cars,” said Dehn.
“Officers don’t need to carry guns on their person all the time,” Dehn said. “Currently, officers carry all sorts of assault weapons in their cars. So why can’t one of those weapons be the side arm? It’s important that we begin to have a conversation, and I would say that all things are on the table.”
“We live in a culture where guns are pervasive. Cops carrying guns is part of a larger conversation about guns in our society,” Dehn said.
A council member Jacob Frey said: “We need massive reform, not tomorrow, not next week. We need it today”. “There’s a total lack of confidence in the mayor’s office and the Minneapolis Police Department right now. People need to feel comfortable calling 911.”
“I think as we look at how to change policing and how we get officers to not react to use their gun in situations, but learning skills around de-escalation training I think are important,” Dehn told KMSP-TV.
Dehn’s disarmament plan would divert funding from the Minneapolis Police Department in order to address social issues.
“Crime is not a product of individual morality but the consequence of scarcity in our society. We must divest resources, disarm officers, and dismantle the inherent violence of our criminal justice system which continues to uphold white supremacy,” Dehn said in a statement. “Our approach to public safety must reflect a belief that our communities are safer when they have housing, clean air and water, access to education and employment, and quality health care.”
How police officers handle situations have become a hot topic in the mayoral election after Australian Justine Damond was fatally shot by police in an alley behind her home on July 15.
Not everyone agrees with the proposal though.
“I don’t think the people in Minneapolis are logically ready for anything like this,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the local police union. “Who would ever do the job of policing again? It’s absolutely an absurd thought.”
The current mayor, Betsy Hodges, said disarming police officers is not the way to go.
“And if we are going to talk about changes in gun policy, we shouldn’t start with police officers who are going to be operating in a world with people who have guns,” Hodges said.