DOJ offers to assist Minneapolis police; city council not thrilled

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that is offering to collaborate with the Minneapolis police as part of a new initiative to assist police departments with training and other policing practices.

The program includes creating a new national coordination center run by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for training and technical assistance. Federal officials say the partnership could involve anything from reviewing a police department’s use-of-force policies to supporting the mental health and well-being of officers and community members.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is excited about the DOJ’s offer to assist. He made this clear during an appearance with DOJ officials, including Eric Dreiband, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil rights.

Arradondo said the national coordination center could provide important support for his department, which has seen staffing levels decline by 130 officers in the last year. He noted that lack of resources has meant the department has had to become “one-dimensional” in its activities, focusing more on patrol and investigation to the detriment of other police department responsibilities. “What this offer would do is it would provide that additional support for us, in terms of training, in terms of looking at our policies,” Arradondo explained.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Minneapolis’ left-wing city council is less than thrilled about this development. Council president Lisa Bender complained that members of the council were not notified of Arradondo’s appearance or of Mayor Jacob Frey’s conversations with the U.S. Department of Justice before the announcement.

I doubt that this is Bender’s primary beef. Notification or not, I assume she doesn’t want the police chief working with the Trump DOJ.

I also believe there’s more to it than that. This summer, Bender and her colleagues promised to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. Although they have walked back this promise, it tells you the direction in which they want to go.

Clearly, the DOJ’s initiative would take things in a different direction — that of reform, rather than neutering. It would increase police resources, not diminish them.

No wonder Lisa Bender is unhappy.

Bender warned that any collaboration between the city of Minneapolis and the program administered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police first requires council approval. Similarly any grants accepted directly by the city would require such approval.

A city council that demonizes, and has spoken of abolishing, its police force isn’t likely to approve any initiative that will improve that force’s ability to enforce the law. After all, Bender has said that the desire for help from the police “comes from a place of privilege.”

Bender probably expects Joe Biden to defeat President Trump. She also probably expects, as I do, that a Biden DOJ would curb policing, the way the Obama administration did, rather than enhance it, the way the Trump administration proposes.

Meanwhile, in the wake of plummeting morale and a wave of departures by police officers, violent crime is surging in Minneapolis. It is up by 17 percent in the city’s low-income neighborhoods so far this year, and by 30 percent in the city’s higher-income neighborhoods.

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