I write regarding the Star Tribune article "Police reform will cost millions" (front page, Sept. 13).
I was an assistant Hennepin County attorney for 36 years. For most of the last 20-plus years I was assigned to do training for police officers throughout Hennepin County. Much of that training was for Minneapolis officers, both those in their initial training (rookie school) and those with years in the department (in-service). The county attorney provided this training at no cost to the departments.
A great deal of that training was devoted to search and seizure, usually in increments of two to four hours. That is barely enough time to teach the basics, let alone the complexities of search-and-seizure law. The four-hour blocks were for the rookies; the in-service time was closer to two hours. I was rarely told what to cover other than "what you think they need." To my knowledge there was no effort to test whether the officers had retained anything.
Just sitting in a class for the prescribed time is not sufficient. Officers should have to demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter by putting the information into practice by, for example, watching video or physical scenarios where they must say what search, if any, could be done and the scope of a permissible search. An experienced officer should be part of the training to give insights from that perspective.
Adequate training requires time, money, focus and a greater commitment of Minneapolis police administration to the task. I assume the consent decree will require all of these. If Minneapolis truly wants to improve, this is an area ripe for improvement despite the cost.
Alan Harris, Eagan
Did I miss something in Wednesday's Star Tribune citing the two-year price tag of $27 million in new police spending for the city of Minneapolis? In all the new positions the city will need to fill to diligently monitor the Police Department, it seems they neglected to set aside any new money to hire rank-and-file police officers. Where is the money needed to hire the 250-300 cops who are needed to bring the city back to a minimum number of cops to patrol the city? By installing all the police monitors first, the city may be advertising its department as the most micromanaged department, not just in the country, but most likely in the world. What young officer wouldn't want to work here ... ?
Richard Greelis, Bloomington
The writer is a retired police officer.
Police reform will cost millions? Police misconduct costs more. Even if the city pays $16 million next year and paid as much as $11 million each subsequent year ($60 million in five years) for reforms, that would be still $10 million less than the $70 million it paid in settlements for police misconduct from 2019 to 2023. Isn't it better to pay for reform than continue to pay out to compensate for ruined lives? Everything has its cost.
Nancy Laskaris, St. Paul
The writer is a retired public defender.
Tell us who won't back solutions
While I appreciated the editorial in the Sept. 10 Star Tribune heralding one of the many positive effects from the Inflation Reduction Act ("Medicare's savvy way to drive down costs"), I flinched at the line that "Republicans in particular have clamored for market-driven health reforms" for decades.
Yes, the IRA was a big bill that included many other items, from funding rural electrification to increasing tax breaks for those who make energy conservation a priority in their purchases. Still, the editorial should have noted that every single Minnesota GOP representative (Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Pete Stauber and Brad Finstad) voted against it.
And every Minnesota DFL representative (Ilhan Omar, Angie Craig, Dean Phillips and Betty McCullum) voted for it.
In the commentary on the facing page by the Star Tribune's new CEO and publisher, Steve Grove, he found that Minnesotans "want comprehensive, objective, fact-based news, coverage of their communities and the state" ("What I've learned so far at the Star Tribune").
Citizens simply must understand how our elected officials vote on legislation. It affects us all. We'll go to the polls soon for local elections this year, and I expect massive participation in the 2024 election. The Star Tribune should print the facts about voting records by our local and federal leaders to inform and educate us all as we prepare to vote.
Cheryl Bailey, St. Paul
The Sept. 10 editorial explained the massive benefits behind Medicare drug price negotiation well. Unfortunately, it also perpetuated a widespread misunderstanding about how this works. Medicare drug price negotiations are not a "market-driven" approach. This has nothing to do with free markets. The pharmaceutical industry is not, never has been, nor ever will be a free market. Free markets fail miserably when it comes to public goods like firefighters, education or, in this case, health care. Instead, Medicare drug price negotiation gets us closer to a better way to supply public goods: a monopsony, which is like a monopoly except instead of being only one supplier of a good or service, there's only one buyer. Here, Medicare is similar to a monopsonist because it negotiates prices on behalf of a massive segment of the drug market, otherwise known as all of us over 65. This drives down costs because producers need Medicare's money and struggle to say no. This is also the mechanism behind single-payer programs like Medicare for All or state Sen. John Marty's Minnesota Health Plan and demonstrates exactly why both would allow us to decrease health costs even as we pay for ensuring all have access to the health care they need.
Thomas Lane, Excelsior
BARRING TRUMP FROM THE BALLOT
Playing with fire
Attempts by states to prohibit former President Donald Trump from being on the 2024 ballot based upon the 14th Amendment are premature, divisive and dangerous ("Suit: Trump ineligible for state ballot," front page, Sept. 13). Whatever happened to the legal mantra "innocent until proven guilty"?
Trump should have his day in court where our legal process will decide his innocence or guilt on various charges that states are currently citing to justify a 14th Amendment challenge. Absent such judicial proceedings, a 2024 presidential election that prohibits Trump from being on the ballot of just one state will never be considered legitimate by at least half the electorate, and our democracy will be weakened — if not broken. These states need to calm down and let the judicial process run its course before invoking the 14th Amendment.
What if Trump gets elected prior to the judicial process playing out (all the way through the U.S. Supreme Court)? The constitutional framers have given us a remedy for that, too. It's called "impeachment." Trump is very experienced with the process.
In the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter (in United States v. United Mine Workers, from 1947):
"There can be no free society without law administered through an independent judiciary. If one man can be allowed to determine for himself what is law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny."
We must abide by our Constitution, honor the separation of powers and respect the rule of law.
David A. Walberg, Eden Prairie