#How Black Lives Matter activists see the future of urban policing

#How Black Lives Matter activists see the future of urban policing

This is the cop-free world that Black Lives Matter protesters are dreaming about.

Social workers and religious leaders would replace officers on the street — and there would be no crimes such as stealing because the community workers would do such a good job helping everyone, fueled by money redirected from local police departments, advocates claim.

“Right now, cops don’t just respond to violent crimes; they make needless traffic stops, arrest petty drug users, and engage in a wide range of ‘broken windows policing’ behaviors that only serve to keep more people under the thumb of the criminal-justice system,” reads the Web site for the Minneapolis community coalition MPD150.

The group — whose name refers to the Minneapolis Police Department and the organization’s “150 year performance review’’ of the cop agency in 2017 — has been calling for the MPD to be dismantled.

Its efforts gained massive momentum after Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s death May 25, when the 46-year-old black man died in a shocking police-brutality case involving a white cop and three other officers.

The Minneapolis City Council — amid anti-police-brutality protests that have spread across the globe — voted Sunday to disband the police department.

Now, instead of cops — a.k.a. “strangers armed with guns” — mental-health providers, social workers, religious leaders and victim advocates could keep law and order, the MPD150 says.

The activists insist that if there was enough money put into the changeover, society could then become a “place where people don’t need to rob banks.”

Still, a small “specialized class of public servants” to fight crime might be necessary to fight some crime that slips through the cracks, they acknowledge.

Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York

NYPD officers at a protest following the death of George Floyd.

REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Demonstrators protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City

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A contributor to the group told NPR last month that people are finally realizing that the only way forward is in a “city without police.

“I mean, we have thousands of years of history that proves that you can, right?” group contributor Tony Williams said. “The first police department in the US was established in 1838. So policing has existed in America for less time than chattel slavery existed in America.”

Details can be worked out later, he added.

“We don’t have time to obviously dive into the complexity and the nuance of what a police-free society looks like, but it’s largely about using public-health approaches and getting people resources to meet people’s needs,” Williams said.

Opal Tometi, one of the community organizers who started Black Lives Matter in 2013, told the New Yorker last week that policing in American was “founded as a slave patrol.

“People recognize that. So their frustration is absolutely about the policing and the criminal-justice [system at] large and the racial dimensions of it and its lethal impact on our communities,’’ she said.

“What we concluded is that we need social workers,” Tometi said.

“We need those resources to go out to social workers and educators. We need it to go to our schools. We would love to have mental-health professionals when we have certain crises in our communities.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he is opposed to dismantling police departments, citing looting amid Floyd unrest as just one reason cops are needed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he will at least take some funding from the Police Department to pay for more social services for youth.

Some criminal-justice experts told The Post on Monday that the idea of doing away with police departments is crazy.

“No matter how civil of a society there is — whether it is Sweden, Australia or the US — we have legitimate crimes,’’ said Maria Haberfeld, a police-science professor at John Jay College in Manhattan.

“People are beating up their spouses, murdering children. … Who are they going to send to a bank robbery — social workers?” she said of police-less communities.

“I am the first one to say that police officers should not be responding to everything and everybody or to every issue in society,’’ she said. But “there is so much rhetoric out there.

“There are best practices out there that we can pull from, but not politics and personal opinions.”

— Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy


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