I have been a St. Paul Police officer and a member of the St. Paul Police Federation for 11 years. I was saddened but not surprised to see the federation’s misguided open letter to Melvin Carter (“Police union presses Melvin Carter on guns stolen from his home,” Oct. 25).
Police unions nationally and locally have published statements that often set back the interests of their members.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Extremist critics who call for the police to be defunded or disbanded are a small element. However, police supporters and those looking for changes in police culture share a large number of common goals. These include safer communities; a professional, educated and well-paid police force; and officers recognized for their successes while held accountable for their mistakes.
Police union communications should keep these common goals in mind while always highlighting police professionalism in helping victims.
If I had to write a letter about Melvin Carter’s burglary, it would read something like this:
The St. Paul Police Federation extends its sympathies to mayoral candidate Melvin Carter and his family after the recent burglary of their home in St Paul. We work with victims of similar crimes every day, and we understand how violating it feels to be burglarized.
Through the fast and professional work of our burglary investigators, a suspect was quickly identified and arrested. Investigators are now working to recover the family’s treasured heirlooms — service revolvers used in a 28-year St. Paul police career by Mr. Carter’s father.
While the federation endorsed Mr. Carter’s opponent Pat Harris for his policy positions, we look forward to working with the new mayor, whomever that is, to ensure that the St. Paul Police Department maintains the highest professional standards, attracts the most qualified candidates and continues to provide excellent service to the residents of our city.
Matthew Koncar is a sergeant in the St. Paul Police Department. The opinions expressed here are solely his own.