Why haven’t all of the Minneapolis police officers and local politicians been fired?

By touching off riots throughout the U.S., the incompetence of the Minneapolis city government has cost Americans who live elsewhere at least billions of dollars (insurance industry estimate; some color from the Daily Mail) in the short run. Owners of property in other cities may be out tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in the long run, as people decide that they’d rather live and work in suburbs and/or small towns, thus escaping both Covid-19 and civil unrest.

Imagine if the Minneapolis police department had been a Roman legion. After the killing of Justine Diamond (“Noor had been lauded in the past by Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges and the local Somali community as one of the first Somali-American police officers in the area”), it would have been time for decimation (every tenth officer killed by others in the legion). After the murder of George Floyd, surely it would have been time to kill the entire legion due to the disgrace and costs imposed on the Republic/Empire.

Of course, justice isn’t as harsh today as it was in Ancient Rome. However, given the above-market wages, health care, and pension benefits paid, the entire Minneapolis Police Department could be easily replaced at a substantial savings to taxpayers. Why not fire the entire force immediately as a modern-day substitute for how these people would have been punished in the time of Trajan? State police and National Guard units can fill in until the city has had a chance to hire the next class. Also fire anyone in city politics with any supervisory responsibility for the police, right up to and including the mayor. Maybe it would take a replacement police force a few years to become fully effective, but the example would be helpful to other cities and maybe people around the U.S. wouldn’t be angry enough to keep rioting if they saw that the people responsible for the Minneapolis murder had faced some actual consequences.

(As it happens, I was in Minneapolis this week! Glorious plans to hang out downtown were revised in favor of holing up in the Hampton Inn, Eden Prairie. After two nights locked into my room (one of 6 occupied out of 105), with only occasional escapes to nearby strip malls, I had little trouble understanding why those who’ve been locked down in small apartments are rioting. Except for the nice Beaver below (Flying Cloud Airport), the scenery was bleak (leavened slightly by the fact that restaurants are now open for outdoor dining). There was a nightly curfew even in suburban Eden Prairie.)

Readers: What do you think? Should the Minneapolis Police Department be warmly told “Thanks for your service” and sent home with two weeks of severance pay? Also, should Minneapolis be cut off from Federal funds for the next 5-10 years? U.S. taxpayers will have to pay $billions to rebuild the cities trashed as a consequence of what happened in Minneapolis. Why can’t the folks there (“some very fine people”) pay for their own services with local and state $$ for the next 5-10 years?


17 thoughts on “Why haven’t all of the Minneapolis police officers and local politicians been fired?

  1. Decimation was used at least once in the 20th century, in the Italian army in 1917. The Romans did use the practice, but seem to have decided in the First Century that it didn’t really increase discipline and abandoned it. They also avoided disbanding legions, though during the Empire (the Republic raised legions temporarily for specific campaigns) there is at least one legion that disappears from the record without explanation and there is some speculation that it was disgraced and disbanded.

    On the wider point, I actually think the practice of “eliminate the entire bureaucracy and start a new bureaucracy with the same function, but completely new hires” should be more widespread. Though probably you would want to allow functionaries below a certain level of seniority (both in rank and experience) to be able to apply for jobs in the new bureaucracy. This will deal with the problem that bad government agencies can’t just go bankrupt and fold up operations, unlike in the private sector, though private sector bailouts has made this less true for the private sector as well.

  2. At the beginning of the lockdown, I looked into just going someplace, but came to the conclusion that with everything closed, I would just be paying to spend all the time in a hotel room, probably in an empty hotel.

  3. “Also fire anyone in city politics with any supervisory responsibility for the police, right up to and including the mayor.”

    That’s a great plan but with some implementation issues.

    1. Mayor is an elected position. Is there a mechanism in place to recall the mayor ?

    2. Why would be state police any “better” than the city police ?

    3. Where do you propose to go and recruit the new force from given the universal hatred for those who dare to do any policing today ? Perhaps, police should be recruited only from town/village/city locals that know their neighbors personally and would refrain from using excessive force so freely, therefore? Weston would an interesting place to recruit in as well as the three surrounding communities.

  4. There does not seem to be any real accountability for our politicians. NYC has the worst corona virus numbers in the US and ranks near the top in the world. About 60% of the deaths in NYC were in nursing homes and were directly caused by the Andrew Cuomo’s directive that they had to accept elderly patients released from the hospitals. The City is boarded up and in ruins because the police failed to stop the rioters — perhaps because they were concerned that the feckless politicians would not support them. The NY Attorney General, one Latetia James, next in line for the spoils of Albany once King Cuomo abdicates, has announced an inquiry into police brutality in connection with the rioting. The schools have been closed since mid-March and are yet to go on line — apparently the teachers’ union is concerned that on-line learning might affect their employment opportunities. Young people are in the streets marching and rioting because what else is there to do with the City in lock down for reasons that have never been clearly explained. The list goes on.

    • As I wrote earlier, with the NYC populace Cuomo has 75% approval rate(90% amongst democrats). So, even if an accountability mechanism was in place, he would not suffer any consequences. Your solution ?

      Perhaps, the NYC dwellers deserve what they are getting ?

  5. When public unions were getting started there were smart people that warned us against them. That ship has sailed. It will take the folding of the American Empire to reset.

  6. The NPR piece (or the reported underlying research) may have changed my opinion on the police unions a little. Question for me: Is it the fact that police is unionized or is unionization playing into other issues? Fact quoted in the piece is that the US has more citizens killed by police than comparable Western countries. European police are unionized as well. Is unionization another thing we are bad at (e.g. like infrastructure)?

  7. What you are describing was tried in the southern states following the Second War of Independence (heh). All public officials and employees of the Confederacy were replaced by negroes and white northern “carpetbaggers”. Cecil B. DeMille’s “Birth of a Nation” provides an early cinematic treatment of this infamous reconstruction and the masked freedom fighters who fought to restore honor to their land.

    Historical analogies aside, I hope state and municipal revenue shortfalls are going to force a lot of public sector layoffs. Maybe you will get lucky and new school construction will have to be halted as well.

    One last thought — Was George Floyd paying child support to his baby-mama? Was he ever in trouble for non-payment?

    • I hate to bring facts in, but ‘Birth of a Nation” was not directed, or connected with Cecil B. DeMille. A 2 seconds google search will enlighten you to who the director actually was. I could do the work for you (the surname starts with G!), but I feel I need to take a Socratic approach and try to let you do some basic work yourself.

    • I am confused by your last thought – Is death by asphyxiation your proposal for late child support payments?

    • Luke,

      That’s a good question. I wonder how many black men have died in police custody for missing child support payments? How many black men have been turned into criminals and imprisoned for being too poor or too proud to meet obligations imposed on them by an inherently racist system?

      Given racial disparities of unmarried birth rates and divorce, our current child support system is inherently racist.

      White silence is violence. If black men are being imprisoned for the simple crime of being fathers, it is all of our responsibility to speak out. Why should black men be held to racist parenting expectations crafted by white people?

    • All public officials and employees of the Confederacy were replaced by negroes and white northern “carpetbaggers”.

      That doesn’t make any sense. The Confederacy was put out of business. Nobody replaced Jefferson Davis and his cabinet.

      masked freedom fighters who fought to restore honor to their land

      Of course, you’re referring here to the KKK. They were trying to restore what you call honor.

      Here’s some evidence, Philip. Next time the thought occurs to you that very few Americans are racist, with the number declining annually, remember that you’ve got people commenting on this very blog on a regular basis who are clearly deplorable.

    • You could defund and completely disband every police department in the country and you’d have about $100 billion to play with. That’s chump change. Of course, it’s a priority of the BLM movement, but in itself isn’t going to be nearly enough money.

    • If you need a short course in BLM, you can just Google its founders. BLM got started with the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin incident in 2012.



      The Movement clearly no longer believes that “The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job…” (if it ever did) as was said on the stage of the Democratic National Convention in 2016. That was the milquetoast, Prime Time TV message for a national convention audience, before Trump became the President, so as not to scare the white folks too much and get the police unions all in a lather. Four years later, with the megalomaniac Trump calling out the military on peaceful protestors, we’re seeing the real message.


      Gun ownership is next. Not assault rifles: handguns, too. It’s all gotta go. Gun ownership was the instrumentality of slave holders.

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