Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the top legal and law enforcement official in the state, is a leader of the movement to dismantle and defund the police.
Ellison recently confirmed this by declaring his support for a Minneapolis ballot measure that would dismantle and defund the Minneapolis Police Department. The ballot measure that Ellison supports would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a “Department of Public Safety” and eliminate current language in the Minneapolis City Charter that requires a minimum number of police officers based on population. Instead of traditional policing, the new Department of Public Safety would employ a “comprehensive public health approach” to public safety. The new department would not be under the mayor’s control but rather would be led by the mayor together with the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council.
In short, Ellison wants to eliminate the police department and replace it with a gaggle of public-health bureaucrats. The new department might employ a few traditional police officers “if necessary,” but it will largely rely on unspecified non-police employees.
In comments to a local radio station, Ellison indicated that a smaller number of traditional police would only be necessary to “deal with violent engagements,” while non-police would handle other public-safety engagements. But there is no way to separate “violent engagements” that need police officers from the other engagements that Ellison believes do not need police officers. It is extremely common for an engagement involving a misdemeanor-level crime to escalate to the point where felonies are involved. In truth, when criminal activity is suspected, police officers are always needed.
Minneapolis needs many more police officers, not fewer. Violent crime continues to skyrocket in the city and is spilling out into neighboring suburbs and beyond. Minneapolis recorded 82 homicides in 2020, a 70% increase over 2019. This year, there have been 61 homicides in the city so far, putting Minneapolis on pace to exceed last year’s bloody total. Carjackings in Minneapolis rose 301% from 2019 to 2020. As of May 2021, carjackings had risen another 222% over the level in 2020.
Minneapolis’s police force is already down over 200 officers — nearly one-quarter of its authorized strength. And yet now, when police are needed the most, Ellison wants to eliminate many of the remaining officers and dismantle the entire police department. The obvious result of defunding and further demoralizing the police will be more crime.
Ellison’s support for the absurd and dangerous dismantle-and-defund proposal is shocking, but it is not surprising. Last summer, Ellison stood idly by as rioters rampaged through Minneapolis and St. Paul. Ellison should have taken the lead in identifying those responsible for fomenting the violence and ensured they were prosecuted. But he did not. He did nothing. And Ellison has taken no action whatsoever to address Minnesota’s growing violent crime problem.
Ellison and Democrat leaders across the county who are similarly soft on crime (including Ellison’s radical ally Rep. Ilhan Omar, who also supports the dismantle-and-defund ballot measure) have tolerated a general climate of lawlessness that seriously threatens the safety of the public.
Minnesotans, and all Americans, want the lawlessness to end. The residents of our most vulnerable communities are crying out for more police officers, not fewer, and certainly not untrained and unarmed public-health bureaucrats masquerading as quasi-police officers.
It is time to end the anarchy and stop the bloodshed. That is precisely what I will do when I am elected Minnesota attorney general. I will partner with law enforcement and make sure that violent criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will not rest until law and order is restored, and Minnesota families are safe.
Doug Wardlow is a constitutional lawyer and former Minnesota state representative. He is running for Minnesota attorney general.