Minneapolis has voted to disband its police

The Minneapolis city council has pledged to disband the city’s police department and replace it with a new system of public safety, a historic move that comes as calls to defund law enforcement are sweeping the US.

Another question had been asked in this vein, but it was asking for opinions. The given answer linked to this article as having examples of disbanded police forces

In 2012, with crime rampant in Camden, New Jersey, the city disbanded its police department and replaced it with a new force that covered Camden County. Compton, California, took the same step in 2000, shifting its policing to Los Angeles County.

In both cases, you have a small urban area inside a larger one, where you can easily merge policing efforts. Camden's reforms are described thus

The transformation began after the 2012 homicide spike. The department wanted to put more officers on patrol but couldn’t afford to hire more, partly because of generous union contracts. So in 2013, the mayor and city council dissolved the local PD and signed an agreement for the county to provide shared services. The new county force is double the size of the old one, and officers almost exclusively patrol the city. (They were initially nonunion but have since unionized.) Increasing the head count was a trust-building tactic, says Thomson, who served as chief throughout the transition: Daily, noncrisis interactions between residents and cops went up. Police also got de-escalation training and body cameras, and more cameras and devices to detect gunfire were installed around the city.

The City of Minneapolis is about 5 times the size of Camden County, meaning there is no larger entity to merge with. As such, Minneapolis will have to do something truly different here.

One thing I have noted is it sounds very much like the police unions were a problem, a charge also levied at the Minneapolis police

Mayor, Jacob Frey, was elected on a promise to reform the police department, with a strong emphasis on community policing. But he has said the union has resisted all such change. In addition, Frey said he is “hamstrung by the architecture of the system” of the union contract and arbitration which makes it difficult to discipline and dismiss officers for abuses.

I don't think the goal here is simply to displace the police union (unions have historically been allies of the Democrats, although this particular union did back Trump in 2016). Camden's police have re-unionized. But there is something to be gained by eliminating a union that is standing in the way of reform.

What systems are being proposed to replace the police?

  • Camden might be a bad example in this case. Camden disbanded its police force and replaced it with another police force for the purpose of cutting costs: "By laying off the officers and rehiring them as county employees, Camden was able to slash officer pay and cut benefits roughly in half. In all, average per officer costs were trimmed from $182,168 to $99,605 ... With those savings, the department ... hired scores of new officers while keeping overall costs about the same."
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 16:43
  • 2
    In other words, Camden's "disbanding" of its police force resulted in a LARGER police force.
    – Just Me
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 16:45
  • 4
    Yes, but they also instituted reforms, some of which seem to be opposed in general by police unions. So it's not necessarily correct to say it was only for cost cutting
    – Machavity
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 16:54
  • 3
    The balance of power around police unions is somewhat different than it is for most other unions (especially recently), so the usual alliances don't necessarily have much bearing there. Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 17:48
  • Minneapolis didn't disband their police force. Most Council members who voted yes were doing nothing but pandering to activists. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Minneapolis_Question_2
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


For the case of Minneapolis specifically, there is as of yet no specific plan. Especially in the short-term, the police department will remain and the idea is to create alternative solutions with the input of the affected communities:

"(We need) to listen, especially to our black leaders, to our communities of color, for whom policing is not working and to really let the solutions lie in our community," [Council President Lisa Bender] said. [...]

"The idea of having no police department is certainly not in the short term," she added.

Steve Fletcher, a city council member, wrote an OP-ed in which he proposes some more specific ideas:

We had already pushed for pilot programs to dispatch county mental health professionals to mental health calls, and fire department EMTs to opioid overdose calls, without police officers. We have similarly experimented with unarmed, community-oriented street teams on weekend nights downtown to focus on de-escalation. We could similarly turn traffic enforcement over to cameras and, potentially, our parking enforcement staff, rather than our police department. [...]

We can invest in cultural competency and mental health training, de-escalation and conflict resolution. We can send a city response that that is appropriate to each situation and makes it better. We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs.

So at least for the case of Minneapolis, one possible approach might be to expand on existing programs which send the appropriate trained professionals to incidends, instead of heavily armed police officers who don't necessarily have training in the matter.

More generally, other alternatives for incidents that are currently handled by the police are street outreach workers or preventative meassures. Wikipedia has some examples of a slow process of disbanding police by re-allocating funds from the police to other organizations.


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