In his recent opinion piece, Elijah Todd-Walden poignantly asks, “What does this show us, the people who are supposed to place our trust in the police to ‘protect and serve’?” (“ ‘Bad apple’ theory is of little comfort to me,” June 22). Todd-Walden’s question comes in light of the impunity systemically granted to officers like Derek Chauvin, who had 18 complaints filed against him before George Floyd’s death. The question could also well be asked in the wake of increasing gun violence in Minneapolis. On a recent night in Uptown, when police were prepared for trouble and present all night, 12 people were shot. At the end of the night, one of the victims had died and still no shooters were in custody. And we are supposed to place our trust in the Minneapolis Police Department to “protect and serve”?
It is time to amend the city charter. It’s clear that we are not dealing with “just a few bad apples” but a decadeslong lack of public accountability and oversight. What this latest shooting tragedy shows us is that more policing does not stop crime or gun violence. The Minneapolis Police Department has not made our neighborhoods demonstrably safer at the same time as it has funneled crucial resources away from real solutions to public safety crises like homelessness and opioid addiction. As Minneapolis residents, we have a chance now to demand a vote and create together the kind of city Todd-Walden hopes for.
Craig Simenson, Minneapolis
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We’re writing to support the police in St. Paul and Minneapolis and not to underfund or abolish them. But changes need to be made, of which we think the following may be helpful. There ought to be continuing education for officers, along with semiannual performance reviews — more frequent if a complaint is made. When an officer’s review shows poor performance, he/she should be required to attend a mandated re-education program or even face dismissal from the department. Finally, there should be annual recognition of officers who have made significant achievements in service to the community. There could be more opportunities for police to be involved in the community they serve.
Police departments, well-run and trusted, are windows through which the city is viewed. A high regard for the police is a genuine value to the Twin Cities.
David and Karen Conradi-Jones, Shoreview
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I’m white, middle-class and old. I’ve experienced police in seven states where I’ve lived in the last 55 years, most either for traffic stops or as a witness to someone else’s interaction, or on rare occasions when assistance from a police officer would have been helpful. From my perspective, I have to admit that when an officer is actually helpful or useful, it is a surprise. Generally, like the old man in “Catch 22,” when I’ve heard the equivalent of “Help! Police!” it has meant that someone is being abused in some way by the police.
Anyone familiar with produce in a barrel knows that the rot in bad apples doesn’t take long to infect most of the barrel’s contents.
T.W. Day, Red Wing, Minn.
Improve transit, lessen poverty
What to do about glaring differences in opportunity for our black, brown and indigenous citizens? A good first step would be to listen to the people most impacted. A second would be to focus on actions that are proven to work. A third would be to help our children.
Six elected officials of color at the city, county and state level are asking for better transit for their constituents (“Transportation access creates real change,” Opinion Exchange, June 19). Specifically, they are asking for funding of three bus rapid transit lines that serve low-income and minority neighborhoods.
A large and careful study ranked factors that predicted whether children growing up in poverty would become successful adults. No. 1 was decreasing the time parents spend commuting to work. Fewer hours on the bus means more time for nurturing, helping with homework and fostering habits that lead to success.
Bus rapid transit is a fast and relatively inexpensive way for people to get where they need to go. Fares are paid before the bus arrives. Stops are spaced out. Platforms are elevated so there is less waiting for passengers with strollers or wheelchairs to board. Two lines are already operating in the metro area and functioning well.
Progress on the bonding bill at the Legislature has been slow because of rural/urban and conservative/liberal differences. Building out the B, D and E lines for $75 million is an investment that politicians who advocate for small government and personal responsibility should recognize as a deal.
Richard Adair, Minneapolis
Camping in the park won’t fix this
The affirmative vote by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to allow the homeless to camp in any city park they choose is a dangerously irresponsible decision (“Minneapolis park leaders to homeless: You can stay,” June 19). This decision jeopardizes public safety and does nothing to help those in need. It is my opinion the city needs to find and repurpose facilities to rehabilitate the homeless who are able and to care for those who are not. If the governor thinks it appropriate to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a facility to store dead people, perhaps the same consideration may be afforded the living.
It appears city and state government is either indifferent or incapable of finding a long-term solution. It seems obvious that a turn to the private sector is necessary. I believe that with adequate funding, an organization such as Mary Jo Copeland’s could provide the solution. The cost may seem unaffordable in the short term; however, continued inaction and the costs of the board’s decision to the city will be incalculably greater.
I understand that on the surface this may not look to be our biggest issue. But this is one more issue that impacts the health and safety of Minneapolis residents, and this list is beginning to look insurmountable. Police conduct, riots and Park Board approval of repurposing our public parks all impact the health and safety of the residents of this city.
We need solutions that go to the root of the issue rather than what appears to be simply applying Band-Aids and kicking the problems down the road. Please create some long-term solutions.
S.P. Larson, Minneapolis
Don’t undermine the essential
I want to compliment the Star Tribune on a very poignant and timely editorial on June 22 (“Free press attacked in the Philippines”). Even more reference should have been made to constant attacks on the free press in America by our president.
There is good reason why freedom of the press is guaranteed in the very first amendment to our Constitution. The founders understood democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry.
A constant harangue by President Donald Trump about reporting and inquiring press as fake news, enemies of the people, purveyors of misinformation undermines the most fundamental freedom in our society.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Trump both have a right to disagree with what the press reports. But constantly undermining, suppressing and demeaning something so essential to democracy is dangerous. How many times has the free press saved our form of government in a little over 200 hundred years? The Teapot Dome scandal and Watergate are only a couple of important examples.
Thank God for the First Amendment!
Myron Just, Minneapolis
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