In response to the city charter amendment regarding police reform, I have some concern that this amendment does not identify key areas that would successfully lay a foundation in the charter to create the kind of change Minneapolitans deserve (“Push to ‘end’ Minneapolis Police Department could keep officers,” StarTribune.com, June 26).
One item that should be addressed is specific language outlining that police officers should reside within Minneapolis and, more specifically, in the precincts in which they will be serving. This is a very important part of creating a community-oriented police department and should be explicitly defined in the charter, emphasizing the commitment to a community-led police department.
In addition, citizens have a right to know exactly how many police officers Minneapolis is required to have at a minimum and what percentage of property tax revenue can be levied to fund a police department (even if it is not called a police department). This language belongs in the city charter as a check on the City Council’s authority. By removing this language, the council is hampering a robust debate on what can be expected out of police reforms, how the Police Department is funded and ultimately who is accountable.
In a fair and transparent process, Minneapolitans deserve to know in more substantive detail how the City Council is planning to fundamentally alter our Police Department. These details begin with the city charter amendment, and Minneapolitans should demand a more detailed amendment proposal that expressly addresses these concerns.
Christopher Pelosi, Minneapolis
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There have been really intelligent opinion pieces and letters lately on Minneapolis issues, but please let’s not lose focus. We must stop the unjustified killing of our citizens by our police. Let’s do that first.
Steve Mayer, Minneapolis
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Decades ago, the great Bayard Rustin wrote: “We must everywhere be part of the cry for civilian review boards, not in the naive belief that they are a panacea but in the conviction that police conduct is not the exclusive responsibility of commissioners and politicians. Police must be answerable to the citizenry they presumably protect, and if they have been educated to any other concept of their role, now is the time to educate them.”
How much longer must we wait? If not now, when?
Harold Lieberman, St. Cloud, Minn.
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In an MPR interview on June 23, Minneapolis Police Sgt. Anna Hedberg said the proposal for a ballot measure this fall to amend the city charter to allow for the dismantling of the MPD is why officers are quitting the department.
“So if we don’t have the support to do the basic police work — finding the guns and getting them off the street — it’s going to continue,” Hedberg said.
I am sure Minneapolis residents support “finding the guns and getting them off the street.” What people will not support is George Floyd being killed for passing a counterfeit $20 bill. For Sgt. Hedberg to conflate police capacity to get guns off the street with the protests and “defund” repercussions of Floyd’s killing is completely disingenuous. When former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd he was not “finding guns and getting them off the street.”
I am not in favor of “defunding” the police, but if individual officers cannot differentiate the conduct required for guns vs. counterfeit bills, I welcome their departure.
Gary Maher, Minneapolis
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To say I’m disappointed in the City Council is an understatement. The members who continue to speak about defunding, dismantling, etc., the Police Department are reckless and self-centered. They refuse to heed the pleas of many of the communities who have been ravaged by the recent gunfire and killing. There might well be an increase of crime in the summer, but in the 30-plus years I’ve lived on the North Side, I’ve never experienced as much violence in such a short period of time, and I lived here during the crack years!
I don’t know anyone who wants the MPD to remain as it is; however, I also know very few who wish to abolish it altogether. To make vague statements to that effect without a specific plan to deal with violent crime is to give those who perpetrate the violence an all-clear. We who live in these neighborhoods see it, hear it and try to band together to keep each other safe during this failure in leadership. The current state of this city and its council is unacceptable.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Many of us are living there now.
Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis
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The best people to protect Minneapolis residents from police brutality and misconduct are Minneapolis residents themselves. The Minneapolis police have drained the morale value and public trust of Minneapolis residents by turning their cheeks when we need them and overpolicing our communities when not needed. As a coach, I experienced underpolicing when a drive-by shooting happened very close to our football field, with children still there, and no one was there to help us. I’ve also experienced over-policing when I was pulled over for a traffic violation with multiple officers arriving on scene. In both cases, I felt enraged and heartbroken to see young children and myself traumatized from an event in a community that we consider a safe haven.
I think we need a new vision of community safety that is not the MPD. Let’s have Minneapolis residents decide what that should look like and how we should invest the $193 million that annually funds the MPD. Community-controlled programs would empower Minneapolis residents to do what we would do best if we had the right resources: protect and take care of ourselves.
Keion Franklin, Minneapolis
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Thank you for publishing the commentary by Leah Entenmann on June 18 (“Alternatives to replace police already exist,” Opinion Exchange). I would be interested to hear Entenmann walk us through a reality in which we have societal laws but nobody to enforce them (police), and no consequences for their violation (prison — depending on the gravity of the case). I would be interested in hearing her logistical framework, as well as current or historical references that would buttress her argument for a police-free society. Using preindustrial societies as a reference is less helpful than a modern democratic state that is running, and even thriving, using her model.
Perhaps Entenmann can present her case in a more convincing fashion, but I am skeptical. More worryingly, I am not certain that she feels it necessary to do so. We have ample examples of intellectual charlatanism given to us by our current president, but the radical left also happily operates within a “post-truth” universe. Minneapolis City Council Lisa Bender describes reliable policing as a “privilege,” as if our relinquishing certain liberties in exchange for order and security is not one of the fundamental premises of government.
Make no mistake: We have areas in need of profound change within our policing, as well as within our approach to race and equity. But our solutions — our activism — need to be animated by ideas that are cogent and well-articulated. The fanciful logic of Entenmann is certainly not this, nor is the chaotic message coming from the thought vacuum within Minneapolis City Hall.
Sander Johnson, St. Louis Park
This is what committee rule gets us
While reading Joseph W. Anthony’s commentary on Minneapolis City Hall (“Yes, Minneapolis government is dysfunctional,” Opinion Exchange, June 26), I’m mindful of the adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.
Paul J. Coufal, Apple Valley
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