In a misguided move, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board last week approved an emergency resolution to ban the State Patrol from using space at parks headquarters.
The board voted 5-4 to kick troopers out of a small space where they could take breaks, recharge equipment, eat lunch and use the restroom.
And what emergency prompted that action? Some board members favored ending the minor cooperative arrangement because of the State Patrol's role in responding to unrest and protests after a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright earlier this month.
But it really was more of a symbolic, political move, meant to appease those who would eliminate law enforcement. Booting the patrol would not advance social justice or promote law enforcement reform.
Fortunately, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey stepped up to veto the decision by invoking a little-known and rarely used power to overturn Park Board resolutions.
"This resolution is not about good policymaking or helping the people of Minneapolis. Rather, it is about political grandstanding that values optics over both the residents we serve and our interjurisdictional partnerships," Frey wrote in a letter directed at the five park commissioners who voted to eject the State Patrol.
For the past nine years, the Park Board has had an agreement that allowed troopers to use a small space in the headquarters building at 2117 West River Road N. as a rest area. A patrol spokesperson described the arrangement as use of a "docking station in a cubicle." In 2018, commissioners approved extending the arrangement through January 2022.
Still, Commissioner Londel French proposed the resolution, citing the State Patrol's participation in trying to keep the peace in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis.
"Over the last week or so we've been having a lot of unrest in our city," French said. "A lot of the folks that have been at the heart of putting that unrest down or stifling the protesters have been, in Minneapolis, the Minnesota State Patrol."
Commissioners Brad Bourn, Chris Meyer, AK Hassan and Jono Cowgill joined French in voting yes. The more sensible no votes were cast by commissioners LaTrisha Vetaw, Steffanie Musich, Meg Forney and Kale Severson.
In rejecting the idea, Vetaw was a voice of reason. "This seems like political grandstanding to me," she said. "It's my understanding that [the Patrol] use the parking lot and the toilet."
Seemingly lost on the five commissioners who voted for the resolution was the fact that State Patrol and Park Police work together on traffic safety training and on the state's Toward Zero Deaths initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities. The patrol also helps with the Park Board's annual Safety Camp for kids and provides traffic control for the Minneapolis Bike Tour.
Vetaw and the other commissioners who voted no should stick to their positions if their fellow board members try to override Frey's veto with a two-thirds vote.
There are far bigger issues facing leaders in Minneapolis. Frey got it right when he wrote of his veto: "Now is simply not the time for posturing. It is the time for serious, responsible government."