Lawbreakers Opt-In to Voluntary Arrest Programs

As cases of police brutality take center stage, some cities are turning to experimental programs that involve less cops and more self policing.

Following the death of George Floyd, nationwide protests have been calling for change. One small town in Illinois answered that call with a new program that asks robbers and other criminals to check in after committing crimes.

“We know police are the problem,” said Karen Wilkerson, president of Dakato City Council. “That’s why we have designed a law enforcement system that takes cops out of the equation.”

The system is pretty straight forward. After a crime is committed, lawbreakers are asked to go to the city’s website to complete a form where details of the crime can be submitted to the district attorney’s office. Wilkerson says the city had originally planned on using the main police station as a place where criminals could turn themselves in, but health officials warned it would be difficult to social distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other cities are wanting to duplicate what Dakato has created. Wilkerson said she has spoken with at least a dozen officials from cities across the country, three of which have already implemented her ideas.

Dakato’s voluntary arrest program has been online for a little over a week. Although no citizens have checked in yet, Wilkerson says she is confident the program will be a success. “Nobody wants to be first. Once the first self arrest is made, we are sure others will follow.”