Minneapolis, MN — Amid several high profile police brutality cases in Minneapolis, a mayoral candidate in the twin cities is advocating stripping the majority of police officers of guns in their routine patrols.
Local Fox affiliate KMSP reports that Raymond Dehn, currently a state representative, does not want to completely disarm the police, but rather, limit their free access to guns at all times.
“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. He still advocates the use of night sticks and pepper spray.
Dehn’s position follows the recent acquittal of former St. Anthony, Minneapolis officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile last year and was paid $48,000 to leave the force. Just this month, an Australian woman was shot and killed by a Minneapolis officer after calling the police to report a potential sexual assault nearby. Both cases have drawn substantial scrutiny and outrage across the country.
His idea parallels other countries, like the U.K., where police officers do not carry guns and are still able to disarm assailants carrying deadly weapons (though, admittedly, guns are not as common in the U.K).
Dehn’s suggestion sticks out among a slew of candidates who refuse to go as far as him. As current Mayor Betsy Hodges said, “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.”
But Dehn’s proposal isn’t simply a gun grab. Rather, he sees fundamental issues with how Minneapolis police are doing their jobs. “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,” he said.
De-escalation tactics have proven effective elsewhere. In Salt Lake City, Utah, police chief Mike Brown has started training officers in de-escalation to minimize the use of deadly force. As local Fox affiliate KSTU reported in May:
“Newer techniques involve more voice commands from the officer, and the slight giving and taking ground with a suspect to buy time. This allows the suspect an opportunity to calm down, as well as giving the officer an opportunity to rethink his approach, possibly using non-lethal force like a taser to subdue a suspect.”
There hasn’t been a fatal encounter in Salt Lake City since September of 2015.
In Minneapolis, Dehn is the only mayoral candidate to take such an ‘extreme’ stance, and for now, it’s unlikely it will garner much support.
As head of the Minneapolis Police Union Lt. Bob Kroll said, “I don’t think the people in Minneapolis are logically ready for anything like this. Who would ever do the job of policing again? It’s absolutely an absurd thought.”
But Dehn still wants to sit down with police to discuss the possibilities, and his position alone is indicative of the current climate, where some citizens are increasingly concerned about the ease with which officers commit violence against those they are tasked with protecting.
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