Minneapolis police review plan gets negative reception

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

There’s an interesting change afoot in the Minneapolis police department, in the sense that “interesting” is a word in the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” I know, the curse is probably not actually Chinese, but it’s one of three that are ascribed to our neighbors to the East, and a second from the grouping also seems useful here: “May you come to the attention of those in authority.”

The police misconduct board may be looking at an overhaul. “Overhaul” probably isn’t the right word, unless there is a curse that makes it negative, as it sounds like what you do to a car when it isn’t working very well, and then it works better. But, as Randy Furst of the Star Tribune reports,  this overhaul is raising a lot of concerned eyebrows. How high are these eyebrows raised? “The proposal came despite near total opposition from citizens who addressed the committee,” Furst tells us, “including two civil rights lawyers, members of the soon-to-be-replaced Civilian Review Authority (CRA) and activists who have long agitated against police brutality.” That’s right — less citizen oversight, which, considering how often the city has had to pay out for police brutality complaints, is troubling some people.

The lone civilian voice in the article that seems supportive of this plan, which will have the watchmen watch the watchmen, is John Hoff, better known as Johnny Northside. One can only hope that he doesn’t suffer the last, and worst, of the faux-Chinese curses: That his wishes be granted.

But sometimes it is good to be a contrarian. We’ll see how that plays out for Gov. Mark Dayton, who remains one of the only politicians taking a bold stand for higher taxes. Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press offers an unusually bold quote from Dayton: “This unwillingness to pay taxes … is going to be the death of this country if it’s not corrected.” He plans to propose a tax increase next year for the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, which he has tried before, only to be blocked by Republicans. There’s a curse at work here, but what it is depends on your viewpoint. Either Dayton is cursed by Republicans, or the wealthy are cursed by Dayton. Perhaps they have all cursed each other, like some collection of occult hands bringing misfortune down upon each other.

At least there is one fecund blessing I can report, via Olivia LaVecchia of City Pages: Minnesota has the strongest corn crop in the drought-stricken country, according to the USDA. This is especially heartening when you consider that almost everything we eat or drink has corn in it. I realized recently, in preparing for Halloween, that candy corn actually is corn, in part, and I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about the fact or frightened by it. I chose to be both at once, which made eating candy corn a rollercoaster of an experience.

But, then, I also have sad news to report: According to Shelby Capacio
of WCCO,  the AMC movie theater at Block E is closing. I spent many hundreds of happy hours there, eating corn-based food, including popcorn, which probably had the least corn in it of everything, and watching movies that also seemed mostly made of corn. And cheese. Next time I drink a corn-based soft drink, I will tip a bit out in memory of the theater.

But at least the theater, which was a decidedly odd place, will find similarly odd replacements. Downtown Journal always offers an inventory of the possible futures for the urban center of the city, some of which never happen (once upon a time somebody floated a plan to put a dome over the entire downtown), some of which transform the city. So what do we have coming, maybe? A new VA resource centerflea markets and snowmobiles. The snowmobile suggestion seems the most interesting.

But, then, interesting can be a curse.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Pat McGee on 09/13/2012 - 09:08 am.

    Eyebrow raising wasn’t enough

    Council members sighed and left the room but the committee still voted to gut civilian review of police.

  2. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/13/2012 - 11:17 am.

    The police need a burial ground for complaints…

    …and it looks like this new review process is just what the doctor ordered !!

    Especially that 7:2 ration of police to civilians – it’s perfect !!

    As one of the proponents said, what’s proposed for civilians is “involvement”, not “oversight”. God forbid there should be any oversight by civilians !! They are too whacky !

    In other words, get a couple civilians in there, then you can defend any decisions made by saying there was civilian “involvement”.

    This new plan is definitely the cure for TOO MUCH civilian “involvement”.

  3. Submitted by David couper on 09/13/2012 - 11:34 am.

    Improving our police

    Okay, this is NOT a new discussion. How does a community get their police to be accountable and fair? It’s not easy but it can be done. As a former Mpls police officer I am aware of this discussion — in fact, it goes back to the late 60s! Along the way, after I left the MPD, I went on to head up two great police departments — Burnsville, Minn. and Madison, Wis. What I learned along the way is in my new book. I think it needs to be read by those offering solutions to the problem of building community trust in their police. The book is “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon). And visit my blog “improvingpolice” at WordPress.

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