Earlier this week the Star Tribune released the results of a poll conducted by MPR News the Star Tribune, KARE 11 and Frontline, the PBS series. The poll overwhelmingly showed what we knew all along. Residents of Minneapolis DO NOT want to see a reduction in the police force. In fact the numbers are overwhelming. Overall 55% of voters don’t want to see a reduction in the police force that number includes 53% of Democrats and 76% of black voters.
This is with murder rates skyrocketing last year and crime rates rising across the board it’s clear that voters are supportive of the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities.
Here’s where the poll becomes misleading. When asked if voters support replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety which “May include police officers and will focus on public health and giving the City Council more authority over Public safety,” voters are split 49%-41% with a majority supporting.
This majority shouldn’t be taken at face value to assume voters support the extreme positions of the anti-law enforcement crowd or that the police department needs to be overhauled as some suggest. This could easily be interpreted that law enforcement should have oversight and could potentially face increased and improved training methods.
As someone with more than three decades of law enforcement experience, including serving as Sheriff of Hennepin County, I can tell you training methods evolve and a law enforcement officer never stops getting better at his or her job.
Of course, voters will support the efforts to make the police agency better – even the men and women patrolling our streets support that. But this poll overwhelmingly proves that voters in Minneapolis believe reducing the size of the police agency will have a negative effect on the community.
Despite everything public safety has been through over the last two years, it is comforting to know that the voters of Minneapolis support our law enforcement. Now if we can get our politicians to do the same we can start combatting the real problem and the rise in violent crime. – Rich Stanek
Rich Stanek is a Board Member with the Foundation of Minnesota’s Future and former Sheriff of Hennepin County.