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Black Lives Matter protestor shouts at police officer after shutting down Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (Image: Craig Lassig/Reuters)
Minneapolis mayoral candidate, Ray Dehn, calls for police officers to be disarmed
State Representative and Minneapolis mayoral candidate Raymond Dehn (D – District 59B) has proposed disarming police officers.
“Officers don’t need to carry guns on their person all the time,” said Dehn, who has proposed a disarmament plan to divert funding from the Minneapolis Police Department in order to address “social issues”. “We must divest resources, disarm officers, and dismantle the inherent violence of our criminal justice system which continues to uphold white supremacy,” Dehn said in a statement released on Friday.
“We must divest resources, disarm officers, and dismantle the inherent violence of our criminal justice system which continues to uphold white supremacy.” Mayoral Candidate Ray Dehn
Dehn is one of several candidates campaigning against current Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. He won the support of voters at the Democratic Farmer Labor convention but his call to disarm police is now raising serious questions regarding his judgement and competency for the office.
Lt. Bob Kroll, the president of the local police union, was predictably scornful of Dehn’s proposal. “It’s absolutely an absurd thought,” said Kroll, adding, “Who would ever do the job of policing again?”
“It’s absolutely an absurd thought! Who would ever do the job of policing again?” – Lt. Bob Kroll, President of the local police union, responding to Dehn’s proposal
Current Minneapolis Mayor, Betsy Hodges, was also critical of Dehn’s proposal, pointing out that disarming police officers is not the way to deal with crime. “If we are going to talk about changes in gun policy,” she said, “we shouldn’t start with police officers who are going to be operating in a world with people who have guns.”
“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.” – Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges
Dehn was previously convicted of armed robbery
Dehn’s own violent criminal past may be one reason he now wishes to disarm police officers. In 1976, when Dehn was 19-years-old, he was reportedly arrested and convicted of armed robbery. Dehn allegedly became involved with cocaine and needed money to support his habit. Dehn has been quoted by one blog site, turtleroad.org, as saying “I had started to associate with people who were carrying guns and I was starting to use drugs intravenously”. Dehn was later pardoned in 1982 by former Minnesota Governor Al Quie and his record was expunged.
Dehn’s reportedly confessed his belief that gun manufacturers are to blame for America’s gun violence, “We have way too many guns in our society,” he is quoted as saying, “and that is clearly driven by gun manufacturers because the only way they make money is when they sell guns and ammo.” Dehn also appears to blame officers for the deaths of Philando Castile and Jamar Clark, despite the officers in both of those cases being exonerated. Dehn has also been quoted as saying criminals should be allowed to vote.
Despite receiving widespread criticism for his statements, Dehn echoed his earlier call for disarming officers with a similar statement on Saturday, “I support demilitarization of our forces… I believe public safety will be best served if fewer officers carry guns.”
Calls to reform the Minneapolis Police Department
Responding to the recent shooting of Justine Damond, another mayoral candidate has advocated for increasing police accountability in shooting situations. Council Member Jacob Frey, who is also campaigning for the office of Mayor, said police departments must presume misconduct when an officer fails to turn on their body camera, as happened when officer Mohamed Noor fired his gun, killing Damond. Frey said police departments should also consider employing technology that automatically activates body cameras when an officer draws his or her gun.
Incumbent Mayor Hodges noted the wide disparity between the candidate’s approach to reforming the Minneapolis Police Department. “On my right is Jacob Frey, the police union candidate, who will carry water for [union chief] Bob Kroll,” Hodges said. “And on my left is Ray Dehn, who in a nation that is tragically awash in guns, thinks the first people we need to disarm are police officers, and I disagree.”
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Keywords: Betsy Hodges, Bob Kroll, Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Police Department, Raymond Dehn.