To the City Council Public Health and Safety Committee on “the current model of community safety and opportunities for change:”
There are some very simple things this council, working with the mayor, could do to improve the efficiency and restore public confidence in the Minneapolis Police Department.
First, return to the one-person patrols originally instituted 40 years ago by Chief Tony Bouza. This would double the officers on the street responding to 911 calls. If there is danger to the officer and a potential for violence, the officer should immediately call for backup and secure the perimeter.
Second, stop the featherbedding promotions. Almost the first thing Chief Arradondo did when he became chief was to promote 20 of his friends. This takes officers off the street, increases the bureaucracy, reduces accountability and costs the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Third, when an officer kills someone they must be given the same rights as any other citizen, but they must not be given special privileges. When other officers arrive on the scene to investigate, they should immediately separate the officer from their partner and ask for a statement. The officer should be allowed to speak with an attorney, but they should remain in custody and isolation until they give their statement. When Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg killed Jamar Clark, they were put together in the back of a squad car for an hour, taken downtown and released, and then given 72 hours to make a statement. This kind of special treatment destroys public credibility in the police.
Fourth, the people of Minneapolis deserve to know what happened to Terrance Franklin. On April 29 the city paid out a million dollars in lawyer’s fees and awards to Franklin’s family by refusing to answer their wrongful death suit. The city couldn’t answer the suit in court because the officer’s statements were obvious falsehoods and fantasies. Shouldn’t your committee investigate the facts in this killing, and shouldn’t the officers be held responsible?
Fifth, block clubs should not be under the purview of the Police Department, but rather, they should be organized by the Department of Public Health with an emphasis on treating the causes of crime and social alienation: poverty, lack of education and job opportunities.
Finally, 2020 has been a horrible year. To misquote Shakespeare: Some are born to horror, some achieve horror, and some have horror thrust upon them. Your immediate reaction to the horror of George Floyd’s murder was to attempt to defund and abolish the Police Department. Now, with your current proposal, you have gone to the other extreme. The elaborate proposal by city staff is to create more bureaucracy, and that creates more jobs for bureaucrats and an expensive labyrinth of unaccountability. The process becomes a substitute for action.
The people of Minneapolis elected you to run the city. Please, do your job!