October 30, 2017 07:38 PM
Five candidates for Minneapolis mayor were asked in a debate Monday if they could envision their city as not needing a police department. A couple of them said they could envision it, but added it would never be possible.
"We need a police department in our city, period," said Jacob Frey, a Minneapolis City Council member running for mayor. "While I can imagine a world where police aren't necessary, we don't live in that world, and I don't think we ever will."
The question was first asked of the candidates in a survey by a nonprofit social justice group earlier this month; the candidates gave similar answers.
"I don't, sitting here today, see that we will ever have a society where we don't have some level of policing activity," said candidate Tom Hoch.
Hoch and several of the candidates did advocate for police reforms and more of a focus on "community policing."
Betsy Hodges says that as mayor she's already implemented better police training to improve relations between police and the public. "Everybody needs to feel safe calling the police," Hodges said at the debate at Minnesota Public Radio. "Everybody needs to know if they call the police they'll get a good response."
But candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds says that's not the reality.
"The reality is the Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in chronic abuse over decades that has gone unchecked and unchallenged, even by the elected officials who are sitting here," said the former University of St. Thomas law professor.
Ray Dehn, a Minnesota state representative running for mayor, once suggested the possibility of police officers without guns. Now he says it's more about changing the mindset of officers on the street.
"Many officers are out policing the communities as if they're in war zones, and that doesn't help create a safe environment," Dehn said. "Where the police are fearful of the residents and where the residents are fearful of the police -- that's a recipe for disaster."
The candidates covered many other topics, from education to the role of city government in climate change. They were also asked to suggest second and third choices for their supporters to put on the city's "ranked-choice" ballots. No candidate would name names.
Election Day is Nov. 7, but early voting is already underway.
Updated: October 30, 2017 07:38 PM
Created: October 30, 2017 06:16 PM
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