Downtown voices

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September 15, 2003 // UPDATED 11:04 am - April 30, 2007
By: me prevention starts with the little things - and so should good police behavior
me prevention starts with the little things - and so should good police behavior

By Terrell Brown

In the City of Tags and Tows, who is the most

flagrant violator of posted parking restrictions?

I think it may be our law enforcement

agencies.

Case in point: The evening

of Saturday, Aug. 23 at shortly

after 8 p.m., three Minneapolis

traffic squads were sitting

parked on the north side of

Grant Street as their drivers

were inside The Lotus eating

dinner. The Lotus has a parking

lot; parking is legal on the

south side of the street.

Many of us would find our

cars at the impound lot if we

tried a similar stunt, and with

the new city towing fees, the

cost of the tag and tow would

approach $200.

Why is it we have this double standard

between what our Police Department does

and the rules the rest of us need to comply

with? What does their flaunting the little stuff

tell us?

When I asked in one forum if this represents

a double standard, one wag asked why we

don\'t give the cops some slack. OK, where do

we draw the line? Do we allow them to stop

for drinks after work then continue home in

an inebriated condition? What laws, that the

rest of us are expected to follow,

do we allow them to

ignore? This isn\'t an emergency

situation; this is stopping

for a meal.

Like many of our laws, noparking

zones are in place for

safety - traffic and fire safety.

It\'s the same reason we ban

parking on one side of many

streets during heavy snow

years.

This certainly isn\'t the first

instance that members of the

Minneapolis Police Department

have ignored public safety.

A few years ago, a couple of South Minneapolis

cops driving without any lights in the

early hours of the morning ran a stoplight,

killing some unfortunate people who were

returning home from work.

That, too, was ignored; no charges were

filed - although the city paid a substantial settlement

without admitting guilt.

Attitude filters down from the top. Minneapolis

is currently searching for a new

police chief. In a city that has paid large sums

of money as a result of bad police officer

behavior, we need police leadership that won\'t

tolerate that behavior.

The cops who run the CODEFOR and SAFE

programs tell us that the reason they crack

down on small crimes is because nuisance

activity leads to more serious criminal activity.

Apparently, they aren\'t looking in the mirror

when they make these presentations.

We demand high standards from our elected

officials. That is one of the reasons two members

of the Minneapolis City Council have

been sentenced to federal prisons in the past

few years. Similarly, our police officers should

display the message that they are not exceptions

to the rule; they should be models in

their behavior.

It wasn\'t that long ago that Minneapolis had

civilian review of the Police Department. The

Civilian Review Board was set up because the

community felt that the department\'s Internal

Affairs Unit wasn\'t doing the job. The Police

Federation strongly opposed this review.

Mayor Rybak has seen fit to essentially write

the Review Board out of the budget.

To be fair, it\'s not just the Minneapolis

Police who can be seen ignoring the rules

Downtown. The Transit Police area do the

same thing. So far, I haven\'t seen a vehicle

from either agency tagged and hanging on the

back end of a tow truck on the way to the

impound lot. Nor have I heard of any police

officers waiting in line to get their squad cars

back.

Attitude is important. Hopefully, Mayor

Rybak displays a better attitude when he recommends

a new police chief than he did when

he cut the Civilian Review Board.

Many things we have in this community are

national models of excellence. I see no reason

that our Police Department shouldn\'t be the

same.

Terrell Brown lives in Loring Park and

works Downtown. He can be reached at

terrell@terrellbrown.org. Letters to the editor

may be sent to dbrauer@skywaynews.net.