In light of the tragic death of Philando Castile, I have realized that there is a simple way by which we, the people of our communities, can have a positive influence in changing the systems that have led to so many unnecessary deaths. We can make a call. We can make a call to our local police chiefs and ask what de-escalation training is available for our officers. We can stress our understanding that training, which provides enough practice to allow for responses to become automatic, is essential. We can express our belief that de-escalation should be the first response and lethal response the last. We can speak to our hope that communities will invest money into training that goes beyond the basics, ensuring greater safety for our officers and our community members. We can commend those departments that already provide this training. We can insist that those that don’t, do. I made the call and was heartened by the response from the Robbinsdale police chief. The way to a better, more-just future is only a phone call away.
Patricia L. Harlan-Marks, Robbinsdale
Stanek’s enforcement approach doesn’t warrant criticism
The July 10 article regarding the Hennepin County sheriff’s policy of assisting federal immigration officials (“Sheriff’s alerts to ICE draw criticism”) reflects what I think is a reasoned and moderate approach on the part of the Sheriff’s Office. The issues surrounding immigration remain intractable, compelling and complex.
A humane one-size-fits-all approach seems difficult to find. I worked in federal law enforcement on the northern border for some 20 years and discovered that one of the ports I worked at was where my grandfather crossed as a visitor and instead stayed some 96 years ago.
The complexities and laws surrounding our immigration systems are not the fault of the sheriff. His sworn duty is to uphold and defend the Constitution — an oath that requires him to enforce those laws over which he has any involvement. His discernment between his duty to notify and the parameters of his own jurisdiction seems perfectly defensible. It’s difficult to parse these factors in the hysterical atmosphere created by the race-baiting of the Trump administration and the naiveté of those who want to defend everyone against immigration law.
I, for one, think that those in danger and seeking asylum should be allowed to stay in the U.S. even if they break a few laws, get DUIs, what have you. We are all human. What is needed is an honest reassessment of what immigration means. Under our current system, we have more than a million legal immigrants a year. This requires, on average, the paving over of 200,000 acres of farmland a year. This in a hungry world. These are not refugees; these are the skilled and educated desired by corporate interests. Instead of educating our own, we import who we need — a questionable practice that is harming the ecology of our nation for corporate profits. We need a policy that is kind and realistic.
Thomas Evans, Bemidji, Minn.
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Two staff-written articles July 10 reaffirm the Star Tribune’s continued bias against local law enforcement officials. One article described a dog shooting in considerable detail (“Police officer shoots two dogs in fenced north Minneapolis yard, video shows”). The reporting would lead one to believe the police were at fault. Only a few words in the article demonstrate that the homeowner’s family was the cause of the shooting — the officers were responding to a burglary alarm. While the shooting was a traumatic event for the family, the police apparently responded to the homeowner-triggered false alarm and were faced by two dogs that looked like pit bulls. The essence of the article was that police were at fault. I don’t think so.
The other article described the opinions of local appointed and elected officials faulting Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek for upholding the law surrounding immigration situations. It is OK for citizens to express opinions contrary to current law, but appointed and elected officials took an oath to uphold the law. When elected officials do not uphold the law, they must be held accountable, not just in the voting booth, but also by county legal staff. When a county commissioner and the public defenders office support subversion of the law, that is reprehensible.
Our society has reached a sad state when law enforcement officers are subjected to continuous biased reporting. I have benefited from and appreciate the work of law enforcement officers. When faced with a threatening situation, the benefit of the doubt must be for law enforcement, not against.
Thomas P. Moyer, Golden Valley
POLICE SHOOTING OF TWO DOGS
Yet again with an officer’s itchy trigger finger
Once again we have a cop shooting innocent dogs. There was no excuse for this cop to jump a fence into this private backyard. The home’s alarm was set off by mistake and the alarm company was notified within four minutes. The cops arrived 15 minutes later, and instead of just getting the facts at the door, one cop jumped the fence and shot the dogs, who were friendly and wagging their tails.
This cop used his gun instead of his head and proved he should not be allowed to ever carry a gun again. The innocent two dogs are suffering for his carelessness. The city of Minneapolis needs to pay the vet bills for these poor dogs. The cop needs to be fired. It’s too bad that people and their dogs can’t be safe on their own property.
Marge Miller, Coon Rapids
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I couldn’t help noticing similarities between the Philando Castile shooting in 2016 and the shooting of two family dogs in the backyard of a Minneapolis home on Saturday.
I understand police work is a tough business, but there seem to be too many officers who are too jumpy and see a threat in everyone and everything, including, apparently, a terrier wagging its tail. This is a dangerous psychological condition for anyone with a gun at the ready and a badge that gives them permission to use it pretty much any time they want to.
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
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While I do not know the specific (and perhaps valid) circumstances that caused a physician to prescribe the two Staffordshire terriers (pit bulls) shot by police as emotional support dogs, it seems that today anyone who loves their pet can get that designation, which gives the pet special privileges. I have loved all of my pets, but would be embarrassed to pull that scam.
Just for fun, I spent $25 and became an ordained minister over the internet. This allows me to legally perform marriages, etc. I refer to those who do either as members of the “God and dog club,” which trivializes those who genuinely deserve either. God (and dog) help us.
Edward Stegman, Hastings
Wait — there are other views?
I’m sure I’m not the only reader who was entertained by the folks who wrote in to complain about a few non-Steve-Sack cartoons! (Readers Write, July 10.) So, these people are shocked that there are other funny views on events, people and issues?
Come on, people — there’s a great big world out there!
Keep it going, Star Tribune! Other views? Wow! Who knew?
Gene Gomes, Richfield
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As Steve Sack’s totally biased editorial cartoons attacking President Donald Trump continue, I can’t help wondering how it feels to be so all-knowing. His “He ‘gets’ me/I’ve got him” cartoon on July 8 blasts Trump after his first meeting with Vladimir Putin. So much for giving Trump a chance with a known adversary. It is interesting that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the totally inept Mark Dayton in eight years never received the “negative Sack ink” that Trump has received in six months. I for one would appreciate editorial cartoons that are more often in the middle of the road!
Thomas Johnson, Bloomington