External review’s value is public confidence

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau’s commitment to establish outside review of critical incidents is a wise decision and a best practice.

While I was serving as deputy to former Chief Robert Olson, we established such a relationship with then-Hennepin County Sheriff Pat McGowan. It was resisted then, as it is now, by the union. It took some time to establish trust with the process among officers.

This was no small imposition on the sheriff, and his department is to be commended for taking on a big task in the public interest in the face of opposition. Though I had since retired, I found it very disappointing that subsequent Chief Bill McManus quickly abandoned external professional review.

I read Police Federation President John Delmonico’s Dec. 26 commentary (“Why Minneapolis police union opposes outside investigation”) that this practice was unnecessary because the MPD has the best investigators. I agree that they are some of the very best and often most experienced. I believe Delmonico knows that is not the point. Fair or not, strictly internal review will never be seen as completely objective and unbiased. Harteau, like Olson, needs the public trust to fulfill the mission and potential of the MPD. This will help.

GREG HESTNESS, Minneapolis


The writer is a former Minneapolis deputy police chief and current chief of the University of Minnesota campus police.



Industry tardy in paying up for microchips

The obvious reason why U.S. credit cards rely on outdated magnetic strip technology is noted in the Dec. 23 article “U.S. cards are easy prey for hackers” but still it is indefensible. U.S. banks and other card issuers have put off implementing the more secure microchip technology because of the costs they will incur when it comes time to reissue millions of cards.

Interesting to read this article while relaxing at my fiancée’s home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She commented that her various credit cards all were reissued with microchips two years ago. The article reports that U.S. credit card holders can expect their cards to contain the microchip technology in two years, meaning Canadian card issuers and retailers were four years ahead of their U.S. counterparts in biting the cost bullet and doing the right thing.


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Our greatest gifts come with our skills to make innovations happen. Unfortunately, the ugly side of human nature has led to methods of counterfeiting, stealing and fraud. I envision a new payment method in the future that requires only a conveyor belt and two scanners — one for merchandise and the other for our retina. The Target situation will only lead us to reconsider how we make transactions in today’s world.




Don’t mind queries; be grateful of opportunity

To Mary Patricia Ross, the author of “A teen knows the question is coming” (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 24): You don’t know me, but if you did, I might be one of those boring adults asking to which colleges you are thinking of applying. But I wouldn’t just be making small talk.

No, I would be genuinely interested. Thinking back 60 years ago to the limited options I had (or thought I had), the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus, was it. I lived in Minneapolis, and my parents couldn’t afford to send me to some distant private college. Although I was near the top of my class at an excellent public high school, no counselor ever suggested I apply for a scholarship. When the school counselor rounded up the senior girls for a talk, we were all advised to go into elementary education or nursing, so if we ever “needed something to fall back on” (that is, if marriage didn’t work out), we could always get a job. The current generation of women has unlimited choices! Please, please, appreciate how very fortunate you are.

Well-meaning adults truly care about you. Quite possibly, they envy you! Seize the moment, enjoy and appreciate that you are standing on the cusp of your life. Best of luck.

LIZ SWEDER, Fergus Falls, Minn.

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I was particularly saddened by Ross’ imputation that her answer to the inquiries of her parents’ friends would do nothing other than produce the silent reaction, “Thank God, one less person that my precious child will have to beat out for that place at Harvard.” As the firstborn of immigrant parents who did not have a fifth-grade education between them, I welcomed such queries and seized every opportunity to enter into dialogue with the questioners, knowing that I was far from having all the answers and the next phase of my education would be all-important. One actually suggested Harvard — so far off my radar screen that it didn’t make the faintest blip.

I don’t wish to take issue with Ross’s assessment of the position(s) of her parents’ friends, nor with her implication that Harvard is fiendishly difficult to get into. Indeed, the admit rate is now lower than 6 percent. However, the only sure way of not getting in is not to apply. But the myth that it is expensive for everyone has to be dispelled here and now: admission to Harvard is need-blind, and financial aid is need-based. Seventy percent of Harvard students receive aid, and 90 percent attend Harvard less expensively than they would at a state institution.

Harvard’s financial aid program (and those of other so-called selective colleges) is one of the reasons for the very high number of applicants. On the other hand, it may surprise some readers that even parents not eligible for financial aid still choose to pay the freight at Harvard for their children who have been offered merit or athletic scholarships elsewhere.


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My first reaction was that it was hard to believe such an enlightened and well-written perspective could be provided by a high school junior. Indeed, there are more than 1,000 schools in the United States where one can get a high-quality education — or at those same 1,000, one’s approach could result in a less-than-mediocre education. The name on the school’s sweatshirt is far from the determining factor. My conclusion: Any college that enrolls Mary Patricia Ross will be lucky to have her.

DAN BRICK, Woodbury