Major candidate for mayor wants to disarm police officers

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After a year that saw the city marred by two devastating police shooting incidents, a Minneapolis mayoral candidate is running on the wild proposition of disarming police officers altogether.

“Officers don’t need to carry guns on their person all the time. 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,” Democratic Rep. Raymond Dehn said.

Dehn, who currently serves in Minnesota’s House of Representatives, says pepper spray and batons should be the extent of the force police officers need to use.

“I think … we look at how to change policing and how we get officers to not react to use their gun in situations … but [learn] skills around de-escalation training I think are important,” Dehn told KMSP-TV.

The radical policy proposal comes just days after the highly preventable shooting of an innocent Australian woman by Muslim police officer Mohamed Noor. Noor and his partner were responding to a domestic violence call late at night when Noor became startled by the woman and shot her just as they arrived on the scene.

Video evidence of the incident shows Noor’s decision to be one of the more damning overreactions and unfounded uses of a firearm in a police shooting case to date, and it ignited proposals such as Dehn’s. On top of the highly controversial shooting of Philando Castile last summer, few disagree the incident demonstrates the need for drastic changes to the Minneapolis police training program.

But many believe Dehn’s suggestion to be overly reactionary and ill advised, especially those with actual law enforcement experience.

“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.”

Current Mayor Betsy Hodges is all for reform and believes Noor’s actions could’ve been prevented had he been wearing a body cam, but even she sees the short-sightedness in Dehn’s beliefs.

“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.

A statement released by Dehn shows that while his heart may be in the right place, his argument reads more as a national commentary on large scale cultural changes needed to the way crime is viewed, rather than as a pragmatic solution to law enforcement issues in Indianapolis.

“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 Friday. “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.”

In other words, he is saying what a liberal running for mayor in Minneapolis after two police shootings would be expected to say, which leaves whether or not he means it an open question.

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