We lived in the Twin Cities area for 35 years (we recently retired to Duluth). We watched a number of white, straight, male chiefs of police come and go. We watched the ever-growing tensions between the white community and nonwhite people. We saw the millions of dollars in settlements when the police (mostly white males) crossed obvious ethical and legal lines in their treatment of citizens. We watched the unions support the worst and the city complain “no fault.” It’s been a shameful history.
We were thrilled to see the city bring on Janeé Harteau. Finally, an end to the all-white-male dynasty. Her overall performance was exemplary, considering that police forces are still dominated by white, straight, males; that the history against nonwhites and females, in police departments across the nation, is a history of nonacceptance, harassment, assault and even allowing partners to enter in harm’s way with no backup; and that the problems of most departments are cultural, with not enough real-life training.
The only way to change that is to make police unions accountable for firing — not defending — unethical/illegal and dangerous officers; not everyone who is hired makes a good cop. The only way to make sure officers can handle stress is to train them better — push them harder; mentor them. The hostility toward police in today’s world has been brought on by the “bad apples” in departments everywhere, and no political decision will change that. If the new chief does what you consider “better,” remind yourself that you’re backing a straight male again, whom the “boys in blue” may be more willing to follow.
Tossing the chief out is like trying to clean a wound after the infection has distributed itself inside the body. Or is she a scapegoat to save the mayor’s job?
Nancy Lanthier Carroll, Duluth
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It is unfortunate that political ambitions have entered into the tragic death of Justine Damond, a wonderful, compassionate woman of love and healing. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges demanded the resignation of the chief of police to make this matter go away — it won’t. Harteau brought exponential change to the Minneapolis Police Department despite political pressure. Perhaps the mayor needs to look into the mirror and realize that she needs to hold herself accountable.
Edward Lee Anderson, Bloomington
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The mayor is the chief’s boss. The boss shares the blame and the shame equally. The recent events cannot be swept under the rug by naming the chief as the scapegoat. The mayor must resign immediately!
Philip Behrend, Minneapolis
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As a conservative Minneapolis resident voter, I have not supported or agreed with much of the agenda of Mayor Hodges, but I believe she should be allowed and encouraged to complete her relatively short remaining term in office. She may reconsider her run for re-election for another term, however, as high-profile events have released a range of emotion and tension fueling protests for constructive changes.
It is unfortunate that Chief Harteau, who had navigated some very tough incidents in recent years, had to be the scapegoat, but that is a risk of all-important leadership positions. She had an excellent 30-year career record, working her way up through the ranks of the Minneapolis Police Department. She worked with other police departments around the country to share ideas to make improvements.
The coming few months will allow all the many mayoral candidates to propose and debate their vision for positive leadership and police reforms for Minneapolis. We must be patient and make our voices heard by voting this November.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
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Justine Damond’s death is a terrible tragedy. She was clearly a wonderful, giving person doing her civic duty. Police worldwide risk their lives daily for the Justine Damonds. Sadly, she was killed by an officer whose actions were so grossly negligent that no other police officer will ever willingly work with him again. To portray his actions as symptomatic of all police, or for political gain, belies rational thought and dishonors the memory of Justine Damond. Minneapolis can do better. We can all do better.
My sincerest best wishes and thanks to Chief Medaria Arradondo. He is willing to take on the most difficult job in the state of Minnesota. He’ll need everyone’s help and prayers.
Tim Dolan, Edina
The writer was Minneapolis police chief from 2006 until his retirement in 2012.
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Speaking as a liberal, I usually like unions. But the police union is one union that must be broken. I am sick of hearing that a bad cop kills someone and then cannot be fired or is put on paid vacation indefinitely. Next time the labor contract for the police of Minneapolis or any other city in Minnesota (or the county sheriff’s office or state patrol) is up, the city, county or state should insist as a precondition that the police chief, mayor and City Council, or governor and Legislature in the case of the State Patrol, each have independent and absolute authority to immediately fire any officer. They should be at-will employees. Furthermore, state law should be passed that any officer who fires a gun at a human is automatically terminated. They are free to reapply for their job. If the gun discharge was justified or even heroic, they will have no trouble getting their job back. Maybe then cops will hesitate to kill people.
Hugh McTavish, Pine Springs
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I know I speak for many readers in expressing my gratitude to the many letter writers who have shared their thoughts and feelings about the Damond shooting and earlier tragedies. Each of you has begun a conversation we must first have with ourselves if we are to reach out a hand to others. Candor is an act of courage. As a community of many voices, we must start here.
Judith Monson, St. Paul
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The Star Tribune’s front-page Hodges-Harteau coverage (“Chief Harteau is forced out,” July 22) is a great 150th-anniversary gift to readers, a fine example of high-quality daily print journalism on a big story.
The Strib’s coverage was clear and detailed. It gave background and context. It provided extended excerpts from statements by Hodges and Harteau. It stood in stark contrast to live TV coverage I saw of Hodges’ news conference, which was shouted down by protesters; the TV coverage provided viscerality — authentic and legitimate, without question — and a clear call that Harteau, and Hodges, too, have to go.
But beyond that, TV gave more noise than detail. The Strib’s coverage is especially helpful for citizens who might somehow, in some way large or small, act on the information provided.
Your coverage made this old print guy proud.
Steven Schild, Winona, Minn.
Great show, Minneapolis!
Congratulations to Target and the Minneapolis Aquatennial for another great fireworks display! I have watched July 4th displays all over the country, including in Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans, and this is by far the best display I have seen.
Jeff Dow, St. Louis Park
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The Minneapolis Aquatennial is one reason I chose to relocate here 29 years ago. You simply can’t see the Aquatennial fireworks and not think that you are in the greatest city anywhere!
Kerry Anderson, Plymouth