Investigation: Minneapolis Cops Responded To George Floyd's Murder By Refusing To Do Their Jobs While Still Collecting Their Paychecks
from the get-busy-working-or-get-busy-retiring dept
The police in Minneapolis are giving the public what they think the public wants: fewer police officers, fewers interactions with police, and, of course, MOAR CRIME. Calls to defund the police began following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin. Law enforcement officers expressed disdain (rather than dismay their actions had provoked this), asking rhetorically who would show up to tell people there isn’t much officers can (or will!) do in response to reported crimes.
The disingenuous interpretation provided by most police departments was “Fuck ’em.” Let the city fall into criminal chaos if residents continued to express their opposition to excessive force and rights violations. The application of the “defund the police” mentality by the Minneapolis PD is every bit as disingenuous as cop supporters’ interpretations of “defund the police” movements — ones that generally only want to move resources being used poorly by police departments to other entities more suited to handling common calls, like people suffering from suicidal thoughts or mental breakdowns.
Because the cops can’t be honest about their own contribution to the current state of affairs in Minneapolis, they’re giving residents the part that’s easiest to do (fewer cops handling fewer crimes) without doing the difficult part (relinquishing their paychecks). An investigation by Reuters reporter Brad Heath shows cops are doing less cop stuff in the Twin Cities while still collecting the same salaries they always have.
Almost immediately after Floyd’s death, Reuters found, police officers all but stopped making traffic stops. They approached fewer people they considered suspicious and noticed fewer people who were intoxicated, fighting or involved with drugs, records show. Some in the city, including police officers themselves, say the men and women in blue stepped back after Floyd’s death for fear that any encounter could become the next flashpoint.
Ignored in the police response to public criticism is what’s driving this fear of “becoming a flashpoint.” Millions of police interactions happen every day. Only a minute percentage result in protests. So, the fear of “flashpoints” is overblown. But if Minneapolis cops think it’s more likely to happen now — following the murder conviction delivered to one of their own — they may be correct. But they’re missing the point: the protests following George Floyd’s murders were the result of years of racist policing and disproportionate force deployments against minorities. Floyd may have been the flashpoint, but cops were the tinderbox.
Now, having failed to apprehend
criminals their contribution to this shitshow — one governments are now, finally, trying to get under control — cops are admitting they’re too cowardly to face this challenge and too shameless to stop cashing paychecks they haven’t earned.
“There isn’t a huge appetite for aggressive police work out there, and the risk/reward, certainly, we’re there and we’re sworn to protect and serve, but you also have to protect yourself and your family,” said Scott Gerlicher, a Minneapolis police commander who retired this year. “Nobody in the job or working on the job can blame those officers for being less aggressive.”
Wrong, recent retiree Gerlicher. I can. I can blame those cops for being “less aggressive.” I mean, we want cops to keep their aggression in check when interacting with the public, but the “aggression” this quitter is referring to is nothing more than doing the sort of stuff we pay cops to do… like combat and deter crime.
The upside is rights are probably being violated far less frequently, as stops of “suspicious” people have dropped more than 75% since the murder of George Floyd. On the downside, there’s a bunch of self-righteous badge-wearers hanging around the office, bitterly stoking the fires of their self-pity.
“It’s self-preservation,” said one officer who retired after Floyd’s death, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He said the force’s commanders didn’t order a slowdown, but also did nothing to stop it. “The supervisor was like, ‘I don’t blame you at all if you don’t want to do anything. Hang out in the station.’ That’s what they’re saying.”
Wrong. Self-preservation is exiting a career you think no longer suits you or could be damaging to your health (both physical and mental). Self-preservation is not being paid to do a job you’re no longer willing to do until the general public’s internal “WE [BLANK] COPS” swings back to the ❤️ emoji.
If there’s any time cops need to step up and show the public they can not only fight crime but do so lawfully, it’s after incidents like these. But when the going gets tough, the people who claim to be the toughest retreat, secure in the knowledge their union contracts will keep the paychecks coming in while the cities they’re employed to protect suffer the consequences of their inaction.
There are some solutions out there, but none cops are willing to honestly engage with. And then there are the useless things being done in response to the unofficial slowdown in Minneapolis. As cops continue to abandon their posts, the courts have stepped up to issue mandates that cannot possibly be enforced.
Between retirements and a surge of officers taking medical leaves, the city had 200 fewer officers to put on the streets this year than it did in 2019, a drop of about 22%. A judge this July ordered the city to hire more officers, but officials have said it will be difficult to make that happen because the embattled department has struggled to attract new recruits.
You can’t just summon police recruits into existence, no matter how strongly worded the court order. And there’s little to draw people to the policing business at this point in time, most likely because the PD can no longer assure potential employees there’s almost zero chance they’ll ever be meaningfully punished for even the most egregious conduct. When cops get rung up on murder charges, the hiring pool shrinks to bullies and assholes too stupid to understand actions will (every so often) have consequences. The cops need to be at their best. And now, thanks to years of blowing off accountability and discipline, cop shops are discovering the only people who want a job like this are people who should never be given a job like this.
The Reuters report should be seen as a damning indictment of the police officers unwilling to do their jobs while their actions are being actively scrutinized. For far too many cops, the only acceptable work environment is one that combines an immense amount of power with almost nonexistent responsibility. And, like always, it will be the public that pays the price. When the public needs them most, those still wearing a badge in Minneapolis have decided the best thing to do is hang back at the station and play poker with a deck loaded with victim cards.