We've been so whipsawed by the comments and positions of the majority of the Minneapolis City Council that it shouldn't be surprising that many of us don't want to give them carte blanche to create a new public safety mechanism ("Most want reform, not fewer cops," front page, Sept. 19).
From advocating at a "defund" rally to distancing from defunding and then to supporting an amendment that would eliminate minimum funding and allow for police "if necessary," our heads are left spinning.
Buried in the rhetoric are some great ideas. Yes, let's add a significant mental-health response team, but not at the expense of the police, who must respond to ever-increasing violent and volatile situations in our guns-gone-wild society.
Let's instead use this opportunity to finally do things that actual police reform activists have been demanding for generations: citizen review boards with teeth; destruction of the mechanism wherein bad cops can arbitrate their way back on the force; the hiring of good, well-trained police who live in and are representative of our communities, etc. These types of reforms require more money and resources, not less.
The sad irony is that underrepresented and over-affected people of color would be most negatively impacted by the "Vote Yes" amendment. This has been borne out in recent polls and crime statistics.
Ben Seymour, Minneapolis
I worked as a registered nurse for 30 years. I can't help but compare the culture I worked in to that of the Minneapolis Police Department — in one aspect in particular. Imagine, if you will, a nurse in the course of her duties killing a patient. Now imagine her co-workers not stopping her actions or because of "solidarity" not reporting her.
Maybe this nurse even has a history of questionable interactions with patients.
You can't imagine it because it would never happen. Does the difference in culture have to do with one being mostly women, the other mostly men? Are they taught and prepared differently? Are the basic personalities seeking each job different? Both are "helping" professions, and both can be stressful. And, especially with COVID, both can threaten one's own life.
Yes, we need cops. Yes, there are "good" cops. But police culture is rotten to the core. Change that.
Jo Mitchell, Minneapolis
The Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign, in favor of City Question 2, is slickly produced and primed with progressive "transformational" rhetoric. But the majority of the current City Council, which has promoted this same vision since the time of the George Floyd protests, has never backed up the rhetoric with concrete proposals for police reform. One excuse given — that the council is not legally allowed to promote plans or changes which might affect voting on a ballot question — is a problem of the council's own making, since, from the outset, they have been constantly criticizing and attacking both Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo, as well as fabricating its own short-lived prior versions of the amendment. In a season of rampant crime, council members continue to push for further reduction of the already insufficient numbers of MPD personnel: a position firmly opposed by leaders of the Black community and by a strong majority of Black voters. There are better ways to make concrete reforms to policing in Minneapolis; namely, by working together — the public, the council, the mayor and the Police Department — on clearly spelled-out policies.
For all these reasons and more, I will definitely be voting no on City Question 2, the Yes 4 Minneapolis proposal. And I will be voting yes on City Question 1: the proposal from the Charter Commission to strengthen mayoral administrative oversight and clarify management of city government. And I urge my fellow Minneapolis residents to do likewise.
Henry Gould, Minneapolis
Sunday's reporting of poll results regarding police reform did not emphasize the most striking finding in the data: political party preference. Eighty-five percent of Republicans expressed a favorable opinion of the MPD, compared with only 27% of Democrats. This will clearly be a major issue, if not the issue, in the next gubernatorial election.
Phil Tichenor, Brooklyn Park
Why are we polling people for their opinions on provable facts like the crime rate? Either crime has risen or it hasn't. Isn't the role of news organizations to report facts?
I'd understand polling people about how they feel about the increase in violent crime, if it'll impact how they're voting, or any number of other opinions about the factual information. But presenting facts as if they're open to debate seems to run counter to the role of a news organization.
Mike Phillips, Minneapolis
Thank you, Elijah Norris-Holliday, for your commentary detailing the experience of riding with a Minneapolis police officer for one shift ("To have your eyes opened, join a cop for a ride-along," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 18). It was a remarkable eye-opener just to see what one police officer witnesses and has to make judgments about during an eight-hour shift. Every City Council member should be required to ride with a cop for at least one night shift so they can see what happens in their city as they make decisions in their council job attempting to improve city lives. This also should include the mayor. Maybe it should be a weekend night, as those tend to be the worst times.
Charles Stennes, Edina
Regarding the new ABLE program finally adopted by the MPD ("Training cops to speak up," Sept. 17), the benefits of approaching a superior officer to deter inappropriate behavior are many. Not only does a bystander officer who speaks up protect the offender and the community, he or she protects the superior officer also! Police work is stressful, unpredictable, life-threatening and extraordinarily necessary in a civilized society, yet police officers are human beings. Mistakes and poor judgments are made, proving deadly in some circumstances. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the bystander cop to take responsibility. Training is needed to enforce healthy practices, and the ABLE program is certainly a good starting point.
A bystander's willingness to speak up within the ranks of the MPD is one of the best ways an officer can serve their community!
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS
Call on the National Guard
The Minnesota National Guard has been called on many times during its 170-year history to assist in times of crisis. Our National Guard has regularly been called in during civil unrest such as the 1934 trucker's strike in downtown Minneapolis and the 1985 meatpacker's strike in Austin, Minn. It was also used for crowd control during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul and was deployed during the unrest following the murder of George Floyd. One of the few times the Guard has been deployed in a nonconfrontational manner was in October 1993, when then-Gov. Arne Carlson called in the National Guard to assist Metro Mobility when it lacked enough experienced drivers to provide all the trips requested by disabled riders.
We are in another time of crisis right now because of a critical shortage of school bus drivers. Minnesota children need to have reliable transportation to and from school, and right now they don't have it. Gov. Tim Walz, this is an opportunity to burnish the reputation of those who serve in the Minnesota National Guard and show the citizens of Minnesota that the Guard is here to serve us in times of need, not just to control us.
Melanie L. Sedqi, Robbinsdale
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