Brooklyn Center resolution calls for unarmed responders

Chris Juhn/MSR News Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott near the memorial for Daunte Wright who was slain by a Brooklyn Center police officer

The City of Brooklyn Center on May 22 passed what is being called the Daunte Wright and Kobie-Dimock Heisler Community Safety and Violence Resolution. “This gives us a little bit of hope there’s not going to be another Daunte, not another George Floyd,” said Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Wright.

“Brooklyn Center did not look to be in the national spotlight on these issues, but here we are,” said Mayor Mike Elliot. “And given the tragic incidents that occurred here, including those taking the lives of Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, we must respond with a commitment to do better, and today’s vote is part of that response.”

The resolution includes a much-demanded “unarmed civilian Traffic Enforcement Department, [which] has the responsibility for enforcing all non-moving traffic violations in the City, including by creating the civilian Traffic Enforcement Department.”

“We had a number of listening sessions with the community,” said Elliott, explaining that he paid attention to what people were saying. “People had said enough is enough. People had said they wanted unarmed traffic enforcement and mental health responders. We wanted it so that police were not the only option for people in need.”

“Our implementation committee is going to study other cities and other organizations,” said the mayor who will chair the committee. “For example, we will study the CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon. That’s a program that has social workers, mental health care worker that answer calls that do not require an armed officer… In one year they got 24,000 calls and called for police back-up like 150 times. The result was no deaths. And they saved $8-9 million per year.

“We want the oversight committee to have subpoena power and have the ability to actually investigate the claims. We want it have real teeth.”

The resolution stipulates that an ”unarmed Community Response Department responds to all incidents where a city resident is primarily experiencing a medical, mental health, disability-related, or other behavioral or social need, including by the creation of a Community Response Department consisting of trained medical and mental health professionals, social workers, or other expert staff and volunteers…

 “We are going to monitor and measure the data every step of the way and continue to monitor the effectiveness of the program we put in place. We know that similar programs have shown great success, and we are going to use versions of the programs that work,” said the mayor.

“We cannot afford for this to not work. The alternative is the status quo.”