Policing is tough work, but we expect better
To restore public trust in the Minneapolis Police Department, chief Janeé Harteau has promised to open up a dialogue with community leaders ("Chief pledges dialogue on race," Aug. 3). That is a predictable, and necessary, response to the most recent episodes of police misconduct. She also needs to have some serious conversations with her fellow cops, from whose ranks she rose to the position of chief. When all is said and done, it is their actions in dealing with the public, both on- and off-duty, that build, or undermine, citizens' confidence and respect.
DAVID AQUILINA, Minneapolis
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I have a hard time accepting and understanding the intolerance of police officers. The Minneapolis department is an example. It seems that over the years behavior against minorities has verged on the brutal, both verbally and physically.
The same refrain is usually uttered almost immediately after an incident by the police chief, the mayor and, occasionally, the police union: "There is no place for racist or bigoted officers." Until the next incident arises.
No one would deny that being a police officer is not easy. Heat-of-the-moment incidents can give rise to this behavior. But those men and women who want these jobs must be ready and able to cope with that. And those who do the hiring should develop the techniques necessary to weed out those who are unfit.
PETER LOPEZ JR., Stillwater
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I'm glad there are people who want to be a Minneapolis cop and who can qualify to do the job. We need them, and it's not a job I'd want, or be able to do, myself.
In professional sports such as hockey, it's common for a team to have an "enforcer" on the squad — a bully whose unofficial job is to keep the other guys honest.
Given the seemingly intractable problems with a few off-duty Minneapolis cops, is it possible that some in our town are comfortable with having a few thumpers in the lineup just to help maintain order?
JOHN A. HOLMQUIST, Minneapolis
Don't get the wrong idea about nearby shop
Unfortunately, on July 29 a young man was shot and killed on the sidewalk near my Minneapolis barber shop ("Minneapolis shooting victim is Richfield man," Aug. 4). Although the shop was closed at the time and, of course, the shooting had nothing to do with my business, I spent considerable time answering questions from the police and the media.
My shop was mentioned by name in the Star Tribune, which brought unwelcome publicity and also concern from clients and friends. In this economy, businesses are fragile and this sort of negative publicity does not help.
A neighbor was quoted in the online version of the story saying the shooting was "typical for an urban neighborhood" and, "some weekends it's louder than others." This does not accurately describe my neighborhood, which is quiet, safe and filled with hardworking citizens. We need to be careful how we talk about our neighborhoods.
I want to assure all my clients and friends that Eddy's Barber Shop will continue. I have been serving this community for 43 years and hope to continue to do so for many years. Come on back.
EDWARD WITHERS JR., Minneapolis
Refusal of health grant is cause for dismay
Imagine my dismay when I read the Aug. 2 headline, "Anoka County just says no to $1M state health grant." As a county resident and public health professional, I am deeply troubled by the decision of two commissioners to turn down Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) funds that encourage residents to fight the physical and financial burdens of obesity and tobacco use.
The SHIP program is an effort to "make the healthy choice the easy choice." In a world where healthy choices are not easy for many families because of demands on time, income levels, and other environmental factors, we need all the help we can get. It is a shame to know that families in every other county in the state will get that help, while my own family and neighbors will not.
SHIP is based on what works to promote health. A visit to the Anoka County SHIP web page cites significant changes attributable to SHIP, including school districts and in-home child care offering more nutritious food and more frequent physical activity, and 17 housing complexes adopting smoke-free environments.
Investing in healthy policies is neither a waste nor a political misstep — it is a no-brainer. I expect my local officials to capitalize on such an opportunity, not to turn it down for all the wrong reasons.
LEE ANN MORTENSON, Coon Rapids
Some historical context to assess the response
If I remember correctly, in October 2004, then-U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton was ridiculed for closing his Washington, D.C., office because of vague terrorist threat information. He did exactly what the State Department is currently doing in closing American embassies because of vague intercepted terrorism chatter. In 2004, government agencies including Homeland Security and NSA said there wasn't enough specific information to warrant a government office shutdown. Back then, however, there wasn't a secret surveillance issue that the government was involved in and trying to justify. It seems quite convenient for the NSA that Al-Qaida is cooperating with the government to raise the threat issue.
BRUCE FISHER, St. louis Park