Dear Tony Bouza,
I enjoy your columns and respect your expertise and vision as both a police chief and a commentator.
I have several suggestions to make for reform of the Minneapolis Police Department.
First, I would like to see the City of Minneapolis require police officers to live in the city. They are city employees. Local residents pay taxes to pay police wages. Instead, over 90 percent of Minneapolis police live outside the city and pay property taxes to those jurisdictions, which do not require any services from them. When they live here, like other residents, they become part of their neighborhoods, attend our churches and mosques, send their kids to our schools, and know the people they are living among, the good and the bad. Their 24/7 presence would be a deterrent to crime that a 10-hour shift four times a week is not. The police union has succeeded in getting the state legislature to legislate permission for police to live outside the city. I would like to see that law changed, even if it requires some sort of salary incentive or stipend to police to get it done.
Next, I support measures that would require more transparency in arrests, the use of weapons, public disclosure of misconduct and sanctions and dismissal for unlawful and/or improper police behavior. At one time, we had a citizen police review board. It didn’t work. I think what is needed is more on the professional administrative level. Body cams are a great step forward in meeting this concern.
Dan Cohen, former president of the Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapolis Planning Commission; current member, Minneapolis Charter Commission