The sheriff says many local agencies don’t want to have to return to the city and restore order.
The idea of the Minneapolis Police Department being disbanded by the city council is not sitting well with Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart, who on Sunday said his agency has “no appetite” for working in the city if the police department is abolished.
Minneapolis City Council members announced intentions to proceed with disbanding the police force, with council President Lisa Bender on Sunday saying the council voted in favor of ending “our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department.”
“It’s our commitment to end policing as we know it, and recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe,” Bender said.
That’s where the big questions begin. Without a city police force, who regulates order and safety?
Deputies from sheriff’s departments all around the state have been in Minneapolis to help since protests and riots, the latter of which have ended, erupted after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after officers held him to the ground, one of them keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Sheriff Stuart, however, doesn’t want his outfit to have to return to Minneapolis if the police department is disbanded.
“The members of the Minneapolis City Council should be mindful that numerous other law enforcement agencies have responded to support them, to restore order, to protect their citizens and to return peace to their city during recent tragic days,” wrote Sheriff Stuart.
“There are clearly concerns to be addressed and areas to be fixed. However, If they choose to eliminate their police department through defunding operations without a realistic plan, they must also choose to live with the consequences of their decisions.
“We are one of many agencies who have no appetite for going back to their city to restore order again; especially if their decision is to actively compromise the safety of the city.”
According to Bender, the city council plans to speak to Minneapolis residents about what “community-led” policing could look like. “We don’t have all the answers for what that future looks like but the community does,” said Ward 5 councilor Jeremiah Ellison.
While the idea of ending the police department may require a public vote, if it were to happen some of the early ideas for replacement were floated in an op-ed written by Ward 3 Councilor Steve Fletcher.
- Dispatching mental health professionals to mental health crisis calls.
- Fire EMTs respond to overdose calls.
- Parking teams, camera coverage to enforce traffic laws.
How situations of violence or dangerous crime would be handled remains unclear as the replacement plan is evolving, but Sheriff Stuart doesn’t want it to reach that point.
“Cooler heads who seek actual answers while working with their community will find realistic answers,” he wrote. “Those who embrace impulsive actions must live with the consequences and I think we have all suffered enough from a variety of bad decisions.”
The day after Floyd died, Sheriff Stuart predicted that the acts of the four now-fired-and-charged Minneapolis cops involved in the arrest would cast a shadow of doubt on all law enforcement “even though the VAST majority of our law enforcement professionals don’t deserve to have ANY attachment to such horrific acts.”