Whatever shall we do without a few cops around?

The city of Morris, my little town, has disbanded its police force. Yay!

Local leaders in one western Minnesota city have voted to disband the police department, which has dwindled to just two officers, including the chief.

The City of Morris, like other communities across the country, is dealing with changing attitudes about policing and challenges in recruiting and retaining officers.

Morris, with a population of about 5,200 residents, has budgeted for eight full-time officers and an administrative specialist.

The Morris City Council plans to sign a contract for law enforcement services with the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and shut down a police department that has been around for more than 140 years.

Aww. I don’t think anyone will miss that relic. And yes, the county sheriffs will now take over any necessary peace-keeping duties, or more likely, ticketing traffic violators, which is mainly what they do.

“It’s a sad day. Nobody wants to see that happen,” said Blaine Hill, city manager. “People ask, ‘How in the world could a town the size of Morris not have a police department?’ We live in a different world now.”

Nobody? I wanted to see it happen, so Mr Hill is wrong. Also, again, the police don’t do all that much around here.

Commenters on the Fox News story are predicting dire consequences.

There are several banks in town. I don’t see what the police would do anyway; lounge around outside the buildings waiting for the bad guys to go away? We don’t have much of a crime problem here — there’s some drug trafficking, like everywhere, and occasional vandalism and theft, like everywhere. The police don’t play much of a role in preventing any of it. They’re more likely to take reports after the fact. Or maybe shoot a few bystanders. This isn’t the Roaring Twenties of a century ago, and we don’t have Bonnies and Clydes shooting up banks with tommy guns. It’s so much more profitable and safe to be a Republican and loot towns at your desk, and the police do nothing about that.

Policing is being turned over to the county sheriff’s department, who will serve multiple small towns in the area. I don’t think it will make much difference, except in maybe being more economical.

Then there’s this bizarre comment…

Errm…”Minnesota Nice” is not a good thing — it refers to a flavor of passive-aggressive superficiality. Please, let it die that slow and ugly death. Also, this is not a “large city”, and it wasn’t “spoiled kids” behind this change — it was a decision by the bean counters and our city council, which is packed with old tiring conservatives.

But it’s a Fox News comment section, what else can you expect?


  1. felixmagister says

    That sounds less like “disbanding the police force” and more like “reorganizing the administration of the police force”.

  2. weylguy says

    A disaster of biblical proportions for Morris — human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

  3. says

    Back in Eastern Oregon, where I’m from. There are a lot of towns that never had police. It’s the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff’s department.

  4. anthrosciguy says

    Northfield, Minnesota did okay against southern racist terrorist bank robbers without police.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    I don’t understand this:

    There are 2 Sheriff Departments in Stevens County, Minnesota, serving a population of 9,759 people in an area of 564 square miles. There is 1 Sheriff Department per 4,879 people, and 1 Sheriff Department per 281 square miles.

    In Minnesota, Stevens County is ranked 12th of 87 counties in Sheriff Departments per capita, and 12th of 87 counties in Sheriff Departments per square mile.

  6. whheydt says

    Better hope your sheriffs are better than the Alameda County (CA) Sheriffs of the late 1960s. The earned their nickname of “Blue Meanies”.

  7. says

    @9 followup. If there is one thing I learned from 2016, pay attention to local politics. Us on the left tend to be globalists and appreciate the wider perspective however, we lose sight of the fact that the GQP has been focusing on smaller elections. Local judges and school boards. We’re trying to save the world, and they want to conquer the world.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Maybe you can recruit some of the non-shootist police that have lost their jobs because the British government has cut down the police?

  9. consciousness razor says

    Erlend Meyer:

    You still have cops, but now they’re not rooted in the community…

    Stevens County is not large: 575 square miles (about 24×24 mi.). Morris is within a few miles of the center, and it has over half the county population (approx. 5200/9700). The Sheriff’s office is right in the middle of town.

    Perhaps some officers do have a (fairly short) commute and maybe a second job as farmers or whatever, but even if that’s the case, it doesn’t sound like much of a problem to me.

    Besides, cops who are “rooted in the community” are still shitheads, in my experience.

  10. says

    In a large number of Canadian communities local policing is done by the RCMP. This includes the large cities of Surrey and Burnaby in BC,.

    South Korea is also interesting in that there is only a national police force. The National Police Agency controls city police departments, such as the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. Trying something like that would be a hard sell in the US, and probably Canada as well.

  11. says

    If it’s possible to hire another police department, why can’t some web bros write a policing app like Uber and compete with police departments? Just fantasizing.

  12. says

    Byesville, Ohio did that a couple of years ago. Their cops were so bad, that at one point I told a client that if he wanted a trial on a misdemeanor charge he had to ask for a jury, cause the judge was a cop lover. Got the jury and they accepted that my client was telling the truth and the cops were lying. Some fun.

  13. Kagehi says

    Heh.. Super irony, a video on Sheriffs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt5I3V5hWkU&list=WL&index=6&t=321s

    Also.. My brother, for a time, was s Sheriff deputy. During his time as one the Sheriff he worked for, his opponent in the election, and local state judge where all indicted for conspiracy, and other crimes. Why? Well… I might have had something to do with the attempt of my brother’s boss to have him arrest the friends and family members of his opponent, on fake charges, to sully his opponents name (and, as it turned out, conspiring with the judge to favor his friends in court cases, and send people to jail he didn’t like), while his opponent attempted to bribe people to lie about the Sheriff, among other similar actions, to try to undermine the standing Sheriff he was running against. Can’t imagine why, after this all went down, he decided being a mechanic at a sky resort was as “safer” carrier move…

    But, yeah.. replacing totally unaccountable cops, who are protected by a union, with a completely unaccountable Sheriff, who can do almost any damn thing they want, and despite being an “elected official”, are almost impossible to get rid of (often because they run unopposed, especially since the public often has no flipping clue who they are, or that they should care). I am sure this will have no negative impact on your town at all PZ. :p

    Also, @15 Hmm… Elon Musk’s “Next great idea?” Or maybe Facebook can do it. I am sure nothing at all could go wrong with that idea. lol

  14. blf says

    South Korea is also interesting in that there is only a national police force. The National Police Agency controls city police departments, such as the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

    Ireland has only has the national Garda Síochána na hÉireann; there are no “city” forces at all, albeit there are specialist forces for aeroports and harbours. Gardaí are unarmed.

  15. Kagehi says

    @18 blf

    Yeah, can see that working well in the US. It would start out as an unarmed national guard and in a few generations it would be come the “nationalist guard”, who are armed and trained like military, but that’s fine, since they are not “actually” military, so the fact that there is no distinguishable difference any more wouldn’t violate anything in the constitution… Or maybe I am being cynical…

  16. says

    Commenters on the Fox News story are predicting dire consequences…

    …and flat-out lying, as they always do. They’re trotting out the old chestnut about liberals hating cops and coddling criminals, and all their noise is distracting everyone from the core issue of who really are the ones defunding the police: Republicans. They’re the ones cutting taxes everywhere they go, and then stiffing people out of basic services to compensate for the windfall they give their rich chums. Cops, firefighters and judges have been laid off in significant numbers where Republicans have power, because they’ve always cared more about their own wealth than about civilized governance.