Betsy Hodges is the current mayor of Minneapolis. Those familiar with her probably read the title and said “No duh.” She’s a statist, which means she frequently makes stupid propositions. But her budget proposal really takes the cake. Specifically:
The most significant new spending is in the area of public safety. Hodges wants to spend nearly $2 million to hire 20 community service officers and an 18-person police cadet class, two of the most reliable feeders for the city’s police force. To drive down crime, she wants to boost the number of officers to 860, which is above last year’s budget but equal to the figure Chief Janeé Harteau has said she hopes to reach by the end of the year.
In the name of public safety she wants to add more people to the ranks of Minneapolis’s most violent gang. Talk about failing to understand the problem. The Minneapolis Police Department has a colorful history but even if you put that aside it still performs a lot of crime. For example, it guns down family pets. When it’s not performing raids on suspected drug users so it can confiscate their property (thankfully that’s slightly harder in Minnesota now). Minneapolis’s finest also find time to write a massive number of parking and traffic citations. And the department has a lot of connections with local business, which it helps drum up business for (my friend recently had his motorcycle stolen and Minneapolis Police Department made him pay to get it out of the impound yard after finding it).
What’s especially ironic about her proposal is that she knows that the city’s police officers are trouble:
Hodges wants to spend $1.1 million for police to wear body cameras, a program she trumpeted during her campaign that she hopes will reduce use-of-force complaints.
I’m all for making police departments wear cameras so long as the footage is always available to the public and cannot be tossed down the memory hole by government officials. But her proposal to make Minneapolis’s most violent gang members wear cameras is also an admittance to the fact that the department has a lot of use-of-force complaints against it. She knows the department has a history of unnecessary violence yet she still wants to provide it more funding to hire more thugs.
If Hodges really wanted to reduce crime she would either reduce the number of criminals in city’s officially sanctioned gang or, preferable, disband the department entirely and allow the market to fill the demand for protective services (something the Minneapolis Police Department doesn’t seem to focus on at all).