By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some people in a Minneapolis neighborhood are working to change the mentality of calling 911 when there’s a problem.

At least a few dozen people who live in Powderhorn have informally agreed not to call police.

Tobie Miller is one of them, and when her home was broken into, her mind turned not to her stolen wallet, but the question of what made someone want to break in in the first place?

“I’m thinking systemically, not in the moment anymore,” Miller said. “I can replace all [my] stuff. [The thief] got some extra money out of it. That’s just what happens, that’s life.”

Miller and many of her neighbors share the feeling that police put people in danger, especially people of color.

“We don’t want to put our neighbors at risk, so if a cat’s up in the tree, maybe I can call the humane society instead of the police,” said Sarah Larsson, a neighbor. “Someone’s having a mental health crisis, maybe I can call someone who’s trained in de-escalation.”

Even in cases of violence, they also question if cops help.

“We’ve had incidents of gunfire in the neighborhood and then those people are gone by the time [police] can get there,” Larsson said. “Increasing a presence of citizens and hopeful and helpful people to engage directly is more of this proactive, preventative force that will reduce those incidents.”

Both women acknowledge this way of thinking won’t be accepted by everyone.

Just a couple blocks away, people told us how badly their neighborhood needs police.

“We have shootings over here all the time,” said Michelle Hall. “That’s all I’ve been hearing is shootings.”

Tom Kelly, another neighbor, says the idea to defund the police is “complete B.S.”

Miller says she respects people’s fears.

She and Larsson believe their decision is a step toward remaking society for the better.

“People won’t be robbed at gunpoint, because we’ll have started changing systems so people won’t feel the need to rob at gunpoint,” Miller said. “That’s the problem.”

Kelly says his neighbors who don’t want to call police “don’t speak for all of us.”

The neighborhood has put together a master list of resources in the community that can be used as alternatives to dialing 911 for various issues.

The list can be viewed here.

David Schuman

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