I'm a former federal prosecutor from Detroit who has spent the last two decades training law students intent on becoming prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Despite my vocation, I don't live in an ivory tower, and I care deeply about public safety. For the last nine months, I've worked with HEALS 2.0, a cross-jurisdictional task force convened by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and focused on reducing violent crime. My role has been to push for the execution of outstanding warrants and for bringing in more criminal investigators.

The work of this group and many others within and outside of law enforcement seems to be paying off. We have seen a dramatic downturn in homicides and shots fired in the city of Minneapolis, particularly within the past month — a good thing both for those who live in the city and those who live in other parts of Hennepin County, as I do.

Given the issues we face, I know how important the coming election for Hennepin County attorney will be, and I'm convinced that Mary Moriarty is the right person for this important role. This is a time for choices to be rooted in hope rather than fear. Moriarty is the candidate who has chosen that path.

The source of that hope is Moriarty's plan of action, a blueprint that meshes with the goals of other leading officials. Perhaps most importantly, Moriarty is focused on using data rather than anecdote in crafting policy. That's a necessary step that is also at the center of the plans laid out by Cedric Alexander, Minneapolis's new commissioner of public safety, who is charged with leading and coordinating law enforcement efforts within Hennepin County's largest city.

That alignment between the county attorney and the commissioner would provide a great starting point for cooperation and development of a new model to reduce crime without triggering over-incarceration.

Moriarty is an outsider to the established law enforcement order, but Alexander and Brian O'Hara — newly nominated for Minneapolis police chief — are also outsiders. There is a new guard coming in, and in that context Moriarty's outsider status is an advantage.

Being the county attorney is a tough job. People will object to any decision made. The county attorney must be able stand up to that kind of pressure. Moriarty's campaign has been focused, grounded and relentlessly positive from the start, even in heated moments. Time and again in candidate debates, Moriarty has focused on facts while her opponent, Martha Holton Dimick, has relied on personal attacks — an approach that just won't work as county attorney when faced with dissent.

Holton Dimick's responses have also included a troubling denigration of the important work done by public defenders. In one debate, Holton Dimick said: "My experience is a lot stronger than an experiment from someone who has just done defense attorney work and has just worked with criminals."

The negativity toward public defenders she shows is disappointing (as is the assumption that all who are charged are guilty). The reality is that public defenders make great sacrifices and often risk their safety to protect constitutional rights. Some attorneys are greedy and selfish. None of them are public defenders.

I'm convinced that this election, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, is especially important. I was 4 years old when my hometown of Detroit exploded in 1967 after a racial police incident. My family then lived on the east side of that city, relatively far from the worst of it, but it was hard not to see military vehicles occupying the streets. I did not think I would see that again, but I did in 2020, right here in Minnesota.

Somehow, we failed to learn the lesson in 1967. Or in 1992, when Rodney King was beaten in Los Angeles. Or in the parade of racial police incidents that unfolded over the last decade. Perhaps we can now. That hope-filled imperative is best served by Mary Moriarty, working with the rest of the law enforcement community that is only now rebuilding around us.

Mark Osler is a former federal prosecutor and currently a law professor in Minneapolis.