BY TONY BOUZA
The Minneapolis Police Department budget document itself is a turgid piece of bureaucratic invention intended to obfuscate and mislead you into thinking your $200 million is being sensibly spent.
The pages are replete with references to how sedulously they monitor and invest your dollars, how carefully they listen to your views and how much they care for your well-being. Please tell that to the brave citizens pleading with the cop killing George Floyd. The cops sure were listening hard, no?
And please tell me what an Assistant Chief is. I never heard of one. And what wonderful secrets does “The Chief’s Detail” conceal? I bet there are grotesque boondoggles behind that anodyne descriptive. For example, does it conceal the oxymoronic Public Information Officer? I bet it does. When I was chief, I had one aide and two receptionists. My door was always open, and I was the Public Information Officer.
Other atrocities stand out.
The chief should control the department through the use of a tough Internal Affairs Division reporting directly to him/her. Uh, not so much, here. Two supervisors (read: “editors” or “massagers of truth”) stand between the chief and IAD. How much does that cost? The budget doesn’t tell us. An organizational scandal.
References to “overtime,” “attrition,” “disability” and “medical departures” conceal malingering. A word notably absent.
Featherbedding appears (or is, more accurately, concealed) in references to a Fifth Precinct. When I was chief I reduced the number of precincts from six to four to reduce the costs of maintenance and staff. Adding a fifth wheel does not improve efficiency.
Self-pitying justifications, evasions, or other lame explanations dot the document. It’s all about service and why they can’t deliver it. Every excuse is piously asserted, but no references to aggressive (and constitutional) police tactics such as decoys, stings, stakeouts, single-person patrols, etc.
Slavish devotion to the wonders of horse and bike patrols. Wow. Don’t kids love petting those beasts? Isn’t it reassuring to see those bikers? Potemkin villages in Minneapolis? Really? How much does all that cost?
Typical of the document’s obsession with truth is its wellness program. What is it intended to treat? Not a word on any addiction or other human weakness, just some reverent references to “personal difficulties” or “stress.” How comforting.
Defunding the police is the simple-minded grasping at appealing slogans. But a measured, surgical excising of bloat, waste and duplication would require thought, real devotion to serving the people and a willingness to take on the union. Another absence.
The police budget is – to put it bluntly – an insult to the citizens of this city. Any public official supporting this document is complicit in the fraud visited on unknowing (and, frequently, uncaring) citizens by the officials sworn to serve them faithfully. We need a charter amendment to change our name to Freedonia.
Bureaucracies are very good at professing civic and selfless service. The MPD budget is a wonderful illustration of the genre.
Every pious bromide is slavishly extolled. Please tell me where is all the racism, abuse, waste, bloat and indifference coming from?
Aren’t you just a teeny-weeny bit tired of it all? Have you altogether lost your capacity for evaluation? Outrage? Can there be any hope of redemption in a place that produces the Damond, Floyd and similar atrocities?
My guess is no, and the document in question is further proof. There is an awful yawning chasm between the budget’s professions and the street’s reality.
In Ancient Greece sophists were regarded as cheap scholars yelling arguments to the highest bidders. You’ll encounter no better example of sophistry than the MPD budget.
Mendacity, daddy, mendacity.