I was deeply impressed with the July 19 commentary “It’s time to decide who runs this town,” written by a retired Hennepin County assistant public defender, Richard G. Carlson.
The public statements by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and City Council Member Linea Palmisano of sympathy, distress and concern for all are appreciated. Their hard work and communication efforts are valued as well. This isn’t nearly sufficient.
It is wonderful that we have many fine, thoughtful and well-meaning police officers who daily demonstrate their commitment and compassion in their service. This, too, is insufficient.
We deserve no less from Minneapolis city government than all of the actions advocated in Carlson’s op-ed, beginning with a full, top-down dismemberment of Minneapolis Police Department management and a city refusal to negotiate policy with the Police Officers Federation. This is what we must demand and the least we must accept. My politics are liberal, but I can no longer support this city administration if it continues to tolerate this abominable threat to law and order by those sworn to protect us. Like Carlson, I, too, am ashamed and increasingly fearful to be a resident of Minneapolis.
David M. Higgins, Minneapolis
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After reading the July 19 letter regarding Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau’s absence (“Harteau’s distance is unacceptable”), I can’t help but think that even the city’s police chief can have an acceptable reason for being gone. Perhaps she was away from work at that time because of a family emergency. Since becoming police chief, she has always been front and center when tragic events happen in the city. In this instance, perhaps she should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Jo Mankenberg, Howard Lake, Minn.
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This case sounds way too much like the Philando Castile case in Falcon Heights. A cop gets scared and kills an innocent person. The video of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez made clear that he was scared witless and that, as a result, an innocent and beloved man and productive citizen was killed.
The Minneapolis police were called to the house because Justine Damond had heard loud noises. They should have been expecting noises. Clearly, officer Mohamed Noor was frightened/startled by the noise and responded by killing an innocent and beloved woman and a productive citizen.
I am willing to posit that neither officer is evil and that they both regret the result of their action. Is there no way to screen prospective police officers for this fear factor? If not, maybe police should not carry guns, because clearly it is not safe. The outcry about the body camera seems to me to be a red herring. If Noor had had his body camera on, Damond would still be dead. Our first concern should be to save innocent lives. That, it seems to me, demands careful vetting of prospective police officers and intensive training, including how to calm themselves in the face of possible danger. Then maybe we’d have to worry less about whether the camera was on after an innocent citizen has been shot.
Susan Cobin, St. Paul
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I understand that if an officer activates a body camera, 30 seconds of buffered video prior to activation will be recorded. Given the critical nature of these events, it would seem practical to increase the camera memory to buffer audio and video for an extended period of time. We have gone to the trouble of installing a ShotSpotter system and are drawing the line for a minimum amount of memory for these cameras. The second question is why body cameras are not activated automatically in the case of gunshots or fireworks like the ShotSpotter system. Taken to the next level, if waveform analysis were used similar to the ShotSpotter system, potentially the body camera could tell officers whether they are hearing a gunshot or fireworks.
Kevin Schroeder, Minneapolis
Working together for the common good: It can be done
Isn’t it time to engage all of our elected representatives in the governance of our country? A statement was made on Tuesday that 50 senators couldn’t agree on what should replace the Affordable Care Act. Well, that’s not so surprising when you only start with 52. Last time I checked, the U.S. Senate consisted of 100 senators representing the views and needs of citizens in all 50 states. Other than partisan politics, why have Minnesota’s senators so far been excluded from this process? I would propose that, instead of inviting 52 senators from the same political party to another White House lunch to discuss next steps, how about inviting the top congressional leaders from both parties (the Gang of 8) to the White House and beginning to engage them in the process of making the necessary changes to the ACA. That would represent real governance and leadership! At the end of the day, no elected official should be excluded, and you don’t get to pick and choose. You took an oath, and you all own this!
Mike Reeves, Lake Elmo
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California recently extended its cap-and-trade program to deal with climate change (Star Tribune, July 19) Cap-and-trade is a good, old-fashioned, free-market-based method to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions will cost a lot for society to address over time. By making the emitters pay some of these costs upfront, free-market incentives will lead to technological change and innovation, over time decreasing the harmful emissions. This bill was passed by the Democrats with the cooperation of (a minority of) Republican Assembly members.
I applaud those Republicans! They did not place party unity or the desire for fossil-fuel industry donations above the good of the country. They did not oppose the Democrats just because they were Democrats. They didn’t vilify liberals just to rile up their base. They supported a good conservative policy to address a pressing issue.
I also applaud the Democrats! They negotiated with the Republicans, instead of creating their bill in secret. They didn’t use the threat of needing to work with the opposition as a way to ensure party unity. They supported what is basically a conservative policy because it is a good way to actually address the problem.
Politicians in the rest of the country could learn a lot from this success story.
Michael Schwartz, St. Louis Park
u NAMING RIGHTS
Having just read yet another item about concern over the name “3M Arena” instead of just “Mariucci Arena” (Michael Rand’s “Ex-athletes care about naming rights,” July 19), I have a solution: “MMMariucci Arena.”
Diane Pietrs, St. Paul