Public Safety is a Serious Issue and the Next Mayor Must be Serious About It

Two Mayoral Candidates, Jacob Frey and Ray Dehn, recently answered a questionnaire, saying that they can see a world where we don’t have a police force.  Frey has since ‘flip-flopped’ and changed his answer, saying that he either didn’t understand the question or that a staffer completed the survey.

I understood the survey – and I know that many people feel that public safety and policing are among our most pressing challenges as a city. Violent crime is up downtown and in many of our neighborhoods. While crime is up, arrest rates are down.  Trust in our police is also down following the shooting deaths of several of our fellow citizens.

Yes, we have challenges in our law enforcement.  We need to ensure we have a community-oriented police department that is as great as the community it serves.  Our next mayor needs to take action.  We need to strictly evaluate our training and recruitment practices. We need to significantly increase our investigative resources.   We need to examine programs that have worked in other cities, like peer to peer intervention and enhanced critical incident training. We need to reform our civilian review authority.  We also need to lead the way in pursuing drastic changes in the way our state licensing board operates.

What we don’t need is pandering by politicians telling various groups only what they want to hear.  It’s just politics. It’s cynical, and it undermines trust. 

What we do need is leadership. Urgent leadership on public safety problems—problems that have been festering for the last four years with very little action.

We need a leader who listens, who identifies challenges and develops consensus for an action plan. A leader who will move things forward urgently. Disrespecting those charged with keeping the peace preserving and our safety is not the starting point.  If we are to bring our community together and solve our very real public safety problem, we need better leadership.

We need new leadership.

Related: Some City Council Candidates say they can envision a Minneapolis without police, Star Tribune, 10/06/2017.

 

Tom Hoch