My wife and I had plans to see a show at the State Theater downtown Minneapolis last Saturday night. We bought the tickets several months ago and had been looking forward to our night out for quite some time. However, as Saturday evening approached, we asked ourselves if we really wanted to be downtown between 9 p.m. and midnight. Was it worth jeopardizing our safety for entertainment? Ultimately, we chose not to go. While we missed out on what was certainly a great show, we also were not the victims of an assault, a carjacking or physical/verbal harassment. Minneapolis residents have (wisely) spoken. City Question 2 was rejected. Some City Council members wanting to defund the Police Department were replaced. Hopefully change is on the way.
Ryan Sheahan, Roseville
It would be useful to your readers if reports of carjackings would include more data than time and place. What can you give us concerning a general profile of each victim?
Doing so would perhaps lead to the most likely next victims being more aware of what and who these people are looking for.
Dave Porter, Minneapolis
POLICING IN MINNEAPOLIS
Time for us to demand better
I am one of those voters who declined to vote "yes" on City Question 2 in the recent election. I did so with great reluctance — I suspect like many other "no" voters — because I have great sympathy for the cause of police reform. The current system simply is not working and must be rebuilt.
I have watched for years as other attempts to bring a different culture and discipline to the Minneapolis police force have died before even being attempted. This speaks poorly of the city's leaders, the police and their union but perhaps most of all, we citizens who have wrung our hands over the police behavior yet done nothing to support change efforts.
It's time for us all to get smarter on what it takes to make these efforts work including changes to state laws, union contracts and successful efforts in other departments around the country. Then, we must actually work to push the required changes through — which cannot be done by demonizing the police but by working with them. Sadly, Question 2 required far too much trust in a mayor and City Council that have not proven that they were up to this difficult and complex task.
Let's hope — no, let's insist — that we get another chance to fix this once and for all, and soon!
D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis
A recent letter writer offered 14 bullet points that she thought everyone could agree on that would lead to "serious" police reform ("Next, the hard part," Readers Write, Nov. 4). I agree that most citizens are in sympathy with most of her ideas. But that is the problem. The time is past for thoughts about police reform that only have wide agreement.
I say that knowing that if I lived in Minneapolis I would have voted "no" on the amendment to replace the Police Department with the vague and undefined framework of Question 2. The City Council, the newly empowered mayor and probably the state Legislature must create a new structure that will force a completely new way of thinking by all the members of the police force.
First the police union contract must be revised. The union has been a haven for racist cops for generations because elected officials do not have the power to institute strong discipline to officers who violate their own rules and procedures.
The rules about arbitration must be revised to allow for strict penalties, including dismissal, for rule violations.
Training of officers must include intensive instruction about the history of intercommunity relations and of ways to improve on that dismal history.
The state laws must be changed to modify or end immunity for officers who commit crimes.
And most important of all, new recruits to the police force must come from a different segment of the community.
That means that the incomes for the police must be increased. A qualified college graduate who wishes to work in the field must be able to earn a starting salary comparable to other professions that will increase as it does in other professions. That might mean an increase in taxes to finance such a change, but any increase will be returned many times by reduced payments for settlements of crimes by the police and, gradually, reduced costs of incarceration.
The citizens of Minneapolis must discard their lifelong thinking about how police fit into our society. Only when cops get the same level of respect from average people as doctors and lawyers and other high-income professionals will the hostile relations between law enforcement and the communities they are supposed serve create a more livable society for everyone.
Ron DeHarpporte, Edina
A spate of letters criticize the mayor and police chief over their plans to reform the MPD ("Leaders, where is your plan?" Readers Write, Nov. 12). The insincerity of these "leaders" is apparent from their having sat on their hands this year and a half since George Floyd's murder. They could have traced Derek Chauvin's enablers up the chain of command and fired them all. They could have repeated same for the "bad apple" cops with (somehow nonpublic) records as egregious as Chauvin's. Even the broken arbitration system would have upheld half of the firings and overturned prevailing cop culture.
The inherently weak mayor and the chief have no plan because that isthe plan. They support police along whatever terms the Police Federation dictates. The force will remain an arrogant, insubordinate, carpetbagging instrument of oppression with a bloated, featherbedded, bureaucratic chain of command putting in time toward their pensions.
M. Warner, Minneapolis
Many grim questions
The Kyle Rittenhouse trial process goes beyond a determination of innocence or guilt ("Defense wraps up case in Rittenhouse murder trial," Nov. 12). The sad saga is a microcosm of what the landscape looks like when society breaks down. There is the jungle instinct of survival of the fittest; "I had to shoot him before he shot me." There is life-or-death tribal warfare between the tribe that defends law and order, and the tribe that fiercely protests police brutality. There is individual disregard for civilized behavior. What is a teenager doing with a semi-automatic weapon — anytime, anywhere? Where is parental oversight? Why is a self-identified "medic" carrying a firearm? How did these people allow their passions to override peaceful protest? When there is resolution of this case, there will be much material for classroom discussion in the departments of sociology, psychology, criminology and law. In addition, this event might inspire a playwright. Will this be a Shakespearean tragedy? Or some kind of tragic opera?
Richard Masur, Minneapolis
Can we close the gaping loophole?
When the Metro Transit police worker survey reveals 58% are considering a job change ("Transit police survey results 'grim,'" Nov. 6), citing as problems no appropriate follow-up to arrests or citations they make, and the fact they are responsible for fare enforcements, the public should wake up to their complaints. When the light-rail system was set up to allow anyone to get on the train without paying a fare, what did we expect? Did our leaders and planners (the Metropolitan Council folks) think this part of the system would not be subject to lawlessness? As a starting solution, I'd like to see part of our anticipated infrastructure money spent to retrofit our LRT stations so that passengers must have a paid fare in order to board the train.
Lois Willand, Minneapolis
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