MINNEAPOLIS—In an effort to regain the community’s trust and better allocate city resources, Mayor Jacob Frey announced Thursday that Minneapolis would dismantle its current police force and replace it with a new bureau of heavily armed social workers, effective immediately.
The mayor outlined a plan that dramatically restructured the municipality’s approach to public safety, replacing its nearly 850 police officers with a similar number of social workers, who would be dispatched to city streets and have at their disposal firearms, bulletproof vests, tear gas, armored vehicles with gun turrets, and other tools to enhance their service to the community.
“Minneapolis has demanded a new model of security, and so today we are reallocating the police department’s entire $193 million budget to clinical social workers, case managers, and crisis counselors,” said Frey, confirming members of the newly created bureau would be issued service weapons and assigned to one of several precincts, the heads of which would report to a chief of social work. “Why continue asking police to manage this city’s homelessness crisis, for example, when we can send in social workers—those actually trained in assisting housing-insecure people—to bulldoze our homeless camps and move the inhabitants out at gunpoint?”
“We have heard your call,” Frey added, “and rest-assured: The next time you contact the authorities, a licensed professional equipped with empathy, emotional intelligence, active listening skills, and a whole lot of firepower will be headed your way.”
Training for the new bureau reportedly includes instruction not only with Glock 20s and Colt M4 Carbines but also in takedown maneuvers, chokeholds, and baton techniques, all with the goal of enabling social workers to subdue any adversary encountered while conducting routine domestic checks, meeting with trauma survivors, or visiting a child welfare agency.
Recruits to the bureau acknowledged their work should be easier now that they have the capacity to immediately neutralize every potential threat in their path.
“As a substance abuse counselor, it’s nice to know that if one of my clients starts using again, I can just Taser them and confiscate their stash,” said 47-year-old Cindy Hughes, who holds a master of social work degree from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and, in addition to a stun gun and sidearm, carries a Remington 700 sniper rifle in the trunk of her squad car. “It’s so much easier than getting them to go to a meeting.”
“Usually, if I’m worried they’re trying to score, we discuss sober-living facilities and ways to avoid common relapse triggers,” Hughes continued. “Now I can make extra sure they stay off the streets by simply handcuffing them to their bunk at the halfway house.”
According to Mayor Frey, out-of-work former police officers would be eligible to join the social work bureau so long as they earned the appropriate credentials, which would allow them to bring their confrontational impulses and intimidation tactics into both outpatient behavioral health centers and foster care settings.
City officials said they also planned to disband the Minneapolis Police Canine Unit and replace it with a team of local therapy dogs, which would be trained extensively in clamping their jaws onto people’s legs and ripping apart their flesh.
Sheila Bickford, a family therapist in the city for the past 30 years, told reporters her words would carry more weight now that she could enter counseling sessions outfitted with body armor, a ballistic helmet, a riot shield, and a shotgun loaded with less-lethal rounds.
“You definitely get people’s attention when you touch down in front of their home in the Child and Family Services chopper,” said Bickford, referring to her division’s UH-60 Black Hawk military surplus helicopter. “They can either listen when I tell them codependency takes a toll on the well-being and quality of your relationships, or they can get knocked down and kicked in the head until they are completely unresponsive. It’s the easy way or the hard way.”
Added Bickford, “To anyone out there who’s struggling, let me say this: We see you, we hear you, and we are here for you, ready to compel your compliance with chemical agents or the butt of an M-16.”