The commentary (“Hennepin, Ramsey attorneys have turned on cops,” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 7) informed readers of the new normal in the relationship between law enforcement officers and their respective prosecuting attorneys. It is unfortunate this has occurred, but recent high-profile cases have created this unhealthy relationship.
County attorneys and their staff, of all people, should be cognizant of the principle of innocence before guilt. However, social media has fanned the flames of the opposite of this mentality, and it is rampant. Yes, cops make mistakes, and some should not even wear the uniform. That is what psychological screening and field training is supposed to detect. Bodycams and dashcams document as much as possible. Citizen eyewitnesses frequently record at scenes, too. All of this can be beneficial to prove the guilt or innocence of an officer during an incident. (The fever pitch of “anti-cop” has some of its underpinnings with the anti-Trump sentiment, too.)
I always advise those who ask not to enter the law enforcement profession. While the personal sense of accomplishment is potentially great, the extreme fishbowl existence is not worth it. This has already manifested itself in the low recruitment numbers for large departments. Law enforcement officers welcome the high standards they must maintain. But who would pursue a career where you are constantly vilified and thought to be the problem? The healthy economy has opened doors for other considerations. Pursue them and never look back.
Joe Polunc, Cologne, Minn.
The writer is a retired deputy sheriff.
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Throwing our local cops under the bus doesn’t seem to be working out too well, as demonstrated by recent headlines, including a Nov. 7 commentary. The extreme anger expressed by their local unions appears to reflect the adverse feelings among our police force, union leaders, their prosecuting attorneys and local leadership. Those headlines also include “St. Paul rocked by shootings even as chief seeks calm” (Nov. 7), “Mayor, residents pour out St. Paul’s anger, sorrow” (Nov. 8) and “Violent crime up 13% in Minneapolis” (Nov. 8). We see protests and public outcries over every now-assumed “excessive” use of force and officer’s shooting of offenders.
There used to be respect for our law enforcement officers in more conservative times, and far more social order. Children now get away with misbehavior in our public schools and carry that lack of discipline into adulthood. It is surprising that anyone would want to aspire to become an officer enforcing laws against a progressive tide that won’t support their efforts; why risk your lives in harm’s way in an unappreciated career? This all needs to change, or we will soon have no police force, law and order, jails or prisons — but perhaps that is what is desired by the local majority’s progressive trend to socialism.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
The data is murkier than you think
On Nov. 4, another “expert” was published in Opinion Exchange who thinks he knows what works best for each of the 50 million people in the U.S. who have chronic pain (“To end opioid crisis we must understand pain”). The overdose problem is very real, but punishing people who use opioids for severe pain is not the answer. I have tried medical marijuana, acupuncture, spinal injections, radio-frequency ablation, physical therapy, etc. The only thing that enables me to live a halfway normal life is oxycodone. When trying alternatives, I had no withdrawal problems. (One study found that, after excluding those with prior drug or alcohol abuse, less than 2% of chronic pain patients became addicted.)
The popular statistic that three out of four people on heroin started with misusing prescription opioids is misleading because it does not differentiate between physician-prescribed and illegally acquired opioids. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that many overdoses involving illicit drugs have likely been erroneously counted as prescription-drug deaths, because toxicology tests cannot distinguish between pharmaceutical and illicit fentanyl and because multiple drugs may be involved.
The Federal Drug Administration estimates that complications from over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs cause over 16,000 deaths a year and 88,000 people die each year from alcohol abuse. Even though the number of opioid prescriptions written fell by almost 30% from 2011 to 2017, the number of overdoses from heroin and synthetic opioids increased by 88% from 2013 to 2016. It’s time that the government concentrated on the real causes of abuse!
Nancy Schutte, Kenyon, Minn.
To gut cartels’ power, legalize it all
The massacre of three women and six children by members of the Mexican drug cartels was certainly horrific (“First 3 of 9 Mexico massacre victims buried,” Nov. 8). Terrible violence arises wherever drugs are in demand. Even in this country, drug gang wars are a cause of homicide. In Latin America, drug gang wars kill and terrorize so many innocent people that citizens are driven to immigrate to America by the tens of thousands. It seems that neither police power, even backed by military force, nor the Mexican president’s policy of improving working conditions and incomes has even begun to reduce the shocking deaths of innocent victims.
We need to make all drugs legal. That drugs are illegal means that the cost for them surges to astronomical levels. The enormous profits from the drug trade is what drives dealers to commit violence. Eliminating the piles of money drug lords amass would obviously eliminate the violence. A hundred years ago, when alcohol was illegalized in America, it led to an increase in organized crime, which Americans eventually no longer tolerated. We made the sale of alcohol legal, retaining only reasonable restrictions on its sale and instituting medical treatment and social programs to mitigate its effects. Overnight, alcohol kingpins disappeared.
We could effect the same enormously positive results by legalizing all drugs. There would be downsides. Perhaps more people would try heroin and other dangerous drugs. But universal drug legalization would mean that life-threatening drug reactions would be immediately treated and the same social/psychological interventions we use to treat alcoholism could be implemented to combat drug addiction. We could end the poverty caused by drug addiction. Latin Americans would not need to flee to this country, which would nearly eliminate the immigration crisis.
Most significantly, we could halt the raging drug wars that kill so many thousands of people, users and sellers, dealers and innocent children. I am gobsmacked that no one, either in government or the press, even mentions such an obvious solution to this horrible problem.
Dean DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie
BIRDS AND THE STADIUM
Before we overreact, can I ask ...
I love birds, but I have a couple questions about the potential remediation of U.S. Bank Stadium to prevent birds from flying into its glass (“Stadium is magnet for bird collisions,” Nov. 7). First, what percentage of the number of birds that fly over Minneapolis is 111 (the number found dead around the stadium)? Second, what percent is 111 of all the birds that die of other causes (e.g. windmills, power lines, cars and other human creations) on their way south? And third, isn’t it likely that a number of birds would still fly into the glass even after the remediation?
Rather than throw money into changing the stadium, would it be more effective for the owners to donate a comparable amount to the Audubon Society (or other conservation groups) to support overall efforts to protect wildlife?
Jerry Rinehart, Minneapolis
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