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Protesters rally Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Phoenix, demanding the Phoenix City Council defund the Phoenix Police Department. The protest is a result of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Matt York)

 

The Minneapolis Police Department has approximately 850 sworn police officers.  As reported in this story by Fox News late last week, nearly 200 of those officers have initiated the process to seek disability retirement based on “post-traumatic stress disorder” in the aftermath of rioting in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd.

This is not a new or breaking story but provides an update on this evolving problem that is spreading to other major city police forces as well.  But Minneapolis is likely the proverbial “canary in a coal mine” with regard to where this problem is likely headed.

In Minneapolis, the number of officers seeking retirement has continued to escalate in the past few weeks.   In this story from the Minneapolis Tribute dated July 17, 2017, the same attorney who is interviewed in Fox News story told the Tribune that 150 officers had started the disability retirement process, and another 50 had contacted his office about getting information on how to begin the process.  The Fox News story now increases that number to 200 officers already in the process of seeking disability retirement.  There is no reason to believe that the number will not continue to climb.

As reported in the story, for a Minneapolis PD officer to just initiate the process for disability retirement on the basis of PTSD, he/she must first be diagnosed with work-induced stress disability that makes it impossible to continue performing as a police officer.  Since that is a pre-condition to filing, and approximately 200 have filed already, that means the diagnosis is already wide-spread.

You cannot replace 200+ sworn officers of various levels of experience with one or more brand new classes of rookie officers and expect to get the same level of police services.  That brutal fact of life is going to be visited on the City of Minneapolis in the weeks and months ahead.

Broad crime statistics in major metropolitan areas DO NOT reflect rebellion or an anti-police attitude by offenders which might dissipate with fewer police on the streets.

Broad crime statistics reflect the existence of a criminal class — a statistically significant group of individuals who have made a decision to acquire money and property by illegal actions, much of which involves taking money and property belonging to others by force or violence.  Robbery, auto theft, home and business burglary are all crimes that have as their base motive an alternative to working as a means to acquire necessities and luxuries of life.

Property crimes are committed almost entirely by people who find stealing to be more lucrative and less time consuming than working to earn money.  Why work 8 hours a day for minimum wage if you can steal items of the same value in 30 minutes?  Why work 40 hours a week if you can acquire the same value of a weekly wage in one business burglary?  There is an entire criminal class of individuals in this country who rationalize their criminal behavior in this fashion.

Drug trafficking is about money, not drugs.

Fewer police mean more, not less, of all these things.  Criminals understand the risk of getting caught is potentially having to spend a period of time in jail.  When you reduce or eliminate policing, you decrease that level of risk, and thereby encourage more of the same behavior.

And just to add a related note from an old adage I heard long ago when I first started working with police as a prosecutor.

The concept of “police” began not to protect citizens from criminals, but rather to protect criminals from citizens.  Without police, the criminal class would be subject to vigilante justice — ad hoc community retribution for crimes committed, real or imagined.

No due process, no trial by jury, no rights afforded to the accused, no presumption of innocence.

The police really are a bulwark that protects accused criminals from being summarily pronounced guilty and punished by a mob of outraged citizens — you know, the kind of thing that Antifa/BLM do so willingly to police officers involved in high profile incidents, regardless of the actual facts.

That is the very real path we are on as a society.  Minneapolis is a bit ahead of other cities as a result of the rioting, followed up by the public pronouncements to “defund” the police.  Even though political activists who populate the elective offices in Minneapolis claim they want to pursue such a political stunt, what they really want is simply to use that as a political slogan for left-wing nutjobs to rally behind.  They recognize as well as anyone else that actually living in a community with no police invites a dystopian hell that no one wants to see created.

But an unfortunate consequence of what has happened in Minneapolis since George Floyd’s death, and the vituperation visited upon police officers there, may actually be bringing that about as a reality as the Minneapolis Police Department seems to be undergoing a “depopulation” on the initiative of its own officers.

I fear the result will not be pretty, and vigilante justice will rise in the months ahead.