At least 150 Minneapolis police officers are now seeking disability for post-traumatic stress disorder, the latest sign of municipal law enforcement reeling from weeks of protests, rioting and calls to disband police departments.
Minneapolis has been ground zero in the defund-the-police movement which sprang from racial justice protests after George Floyd died there May 25 with a White officer kneeling on his neck.
Many of the officers now seeking “duty disability,” which means they are under a physician’s order not to return to work, hail from the embattled Third Precinct where the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death were assigned, according to LawOfficer.com.
The Third Precinct’s headquarters in Minneapolis was torched by rioters after the city’s Democratic leadership ordered officers to stand down in the face of increasingly unruly demonstrations over Mr. Floyd’s death, which has led to criminal charges against the former officers.
Ron Meuser represents many members of the Minneapolis Police Federation who are seeking the PTSD disability and he was quoted by the Law Officer website as saying many cops there “did not feel that they were going to come home.”
In extreme cases, officers were sending goodbye texts to their families and saving a bullet with which to commit suicide if they felt the mob was prepared to tear them apart, according to Mr. Meuser.
The city council voted to do away with the police department and instead turn matters over to social workers and activists, although the matter will be before voters in November.
Minneapolis is not the only city to see its police department riddled with dissension, disability and retirement claims.
The 36,000-strong New York City Police Department, for example, saw 272 officers file for retirement between May 25 and June 24, an increase of 49% from the same period in 2019, according to reports.
The problem has grown so acute that this week the NYPD halted retirement filings after 179 cops filed for it between June 29 and July 5, a staggering 400% increase.
The departure of police officers comes at a time where Democratic city governments in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and others have joined Minneapolis in approving or pushing for huge cuts in law enforcement budgets. Police brutality toward communities of color is the driving force behind the slashed budgets and public opprobrium toward officers, according to activists.
At the same time, violent crime has skyrocketed in many of those same cities, with gun violence in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia reaching alarming heights. In Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park, where the City Council took its symbolic vote to disband the police department, there have been at least three sexual assaults reported in the last two weeks.
On Friday, New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his “Take Back the Block” program that will focus initially on Harlem. At the beginning of this week, shootings had surged by 53% to 585 in New York this year.
“We have to do better and this weekend coming up has to be better, particularly in Harlem where we’re focusing a lot of our efforts,” Mr. DeBlasio said at a City Hall press conference that was not attended by NYPD officials, according to local reports.
Part of that response will be “increased NYPD presence at hotspots at key locations, more patrol officers on foot, in vehicles - but also more community presence,” Mr. DeBlasio said.