A Minneapolis mayoral candidate and current Minnesota state representative has proposed disarming police officers.
Democratic Rep. Raymond Dehn’s proposal calls for drastic changes to the Minneapolis Police Department, starting with disarming police officers and encouraging them to use non-lethal force.
“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,” Dehn said.
According to Dehn, there are other options for police officers outside of lethal force, including pepper spray and batons.
“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 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.”
During an interview with the Star Tribune, Dehn explained his logic behind disarming police officers.
Dehn seemingly contradicted himself in a tweet sent Friday, in which he said he is “not advocating against officers having access to a gun in situations — such as when encountering a deadly weapon — where they need to be armed to keep themselves and others safe.”
— Raymond Dehn (@raymonddehn) July 22, 2017
The candidate has yet to explain precisely when officers should and should not have a firearm on their body.
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.
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.