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Few big cities can find adequate recruits to supplant their understaffed police departments, and I use the word adequate because it's probably the best descriptor of the kind of candidates cities like Minneapolis are going to get — and they'll be lucky if they can get them. The exceptional recruits are going to cities that both welcome and appreciate their services. Suburban departments, for the most part, support their police and pay them as well or better than Minneapolis, St. Paul or Metro Transit Police. The best candidates are going to compete for positions in cities where city managers and city councils support training and modernization, competitive pay and a team effort within the city to always strive to innovate and improve. These cities are not afraid to praise the efforts of officers who distinguish themselves.

There are no "safe" places to work. We mourn the officers and the paramedic slain early last Sunday morning in Burnsville. Whether patrolling a small town, a suburb, a big city or working traffic on the freeway, officers risk their lives every time they suit up for their shift. The pool of young men and women willing to take these risks has evaporated.

The city of Minneapolis is down approximately 300 cops, Metro Transit is down 63 full-time and 49 part-time cops, and St. Paul is down 63. These numbers have started to sound commonplace now, but the phenomenon of having no pool of qualified candidates was unprecedented prior to George Floyd's death and the aftermath.

For these outcomes, we can point fingers in two general directions: First, Derek Chauvin and more broadly the Minneapolis Police Department with its history of questionable treatment of minorities, and second the organization Black Lives Matter. That Floyd's death was tragic and the force used by Chauvin unjustified has been well-documented. The video of his arrogant, brutish use of force changed not only the country's view of policing, but the world's view of police in general. But of course Chauvin does not represent police "in general." He represents one misanthrope who for one reason or another, forgot his duty to protect and serve, and went off the rails.

Black Lives Matter is the perfect name for a group that advocates for the Black community. Anyone could get behind a group like that. All Black lives matter, but from the group's history it appears the only Black lives that truly matter are those who police have confronted and used force to arrest.

Using force to arrest someone never looks good on the news. There is no way to place handcuffs on someone who is resisting and appear to be "Officer Friendly" while doing so. That the police should use only the force necessary to affect the arrest is standard procedure for all police, but when an arrestee is fighting back with the kind of vigor that can get people injured, sometimes the tactics go from procedural to full-on "donnybrook."

The police have to "win" these arrest skirmishes for a number of reasons. Topping the list is that they are wearing a firearm on their hip that will serve as a prize to the victor. Second, if the police are routinely beaten down in their attempts to arrest, it would encourage others to do the same. With the advent of uniform-worn police cameras, it has become popular for the media to second-guess these uses of force that never look good and for Black Lives Matter to demand the immediate firing and prosecution of officers using that force. This has become standard operating procedure for BLM, and in the case of Officer Chauvin's use of force, the group was right.

The riots that followed were the result of the angst brought about by Chauvin's actions, the video replayed ad nauseam, and the history of MPD's brutish culture that made the incident seem like one more act of senseless police brutality in a never-ending stream of them. In addition to the police piece was the messaging by Black Lives Matter that policing, in general, was a violent, hateful, brutal, government-run, racist, capitalist tool used to oppress Black people, and perhaps most important, that it should be abolished and replaced by an as yet undefined "community-based approach." We all heard the cries to defund the police, with a majority of Minneapolis City Council members jumping on board the "defund" wagon.

Since the Floyd imbroglio, the MPD has been saddled with so many outside monitors that it's been difficult to keep track of them all. Rather than inspiring your average patrol officer to do better work, these monitors will probably have the opposite effect. Like a recalcitrant junior high student told to write 100 times on the chalkboard "I promise to never do ___ again," the process does little to effect true change. Rather than changing that student's feelings, the discipline is going to make him resent both his teacher, for imposing such a monotonous task, and the student he offended, for accusing him of inappropriate behavior. MPD officers working today had nothing to do with George Floyd, and if they had been assigned as the assisting officer rather than Chauvin, they would have handled the situation appropriately, and few people would have ever heard of Floyd. Instead these officers are saddled with discipline and the "under a microscope" scrutiny of monitoring that no one appreciates when they are being punished for someone else's misbehavior.

Minneapolis' newest police chief, Brian O'Hara, is fully aware of the wobbly footing his department stands on and how the culture must evolve. It is his job to make necessary changes and put the best supervisors in place who will implement and ensure that his priorities and goals are activated and achieved so that a true change of culture occurs. This change in department culture must be a buy-in by officers and must be observable and experiential by city citizens.

Lack of supervision, rather than anything else, is the main culprit in a history of MPD failings. For example, someone with numerous behavioral complaints, like Chauvin, should never have been allowed to continue in his position as field training officer. His supervisor should have seen to that, among a host of other things. But the supervisory failings of Chauvin are a microcosm of a failed culture of supervision. This, more than anything else, must change for the MPD to get back on its feet and attract police recruits.

Black Lives Matter, the other anchor holding police recruitment under water, has no real answers to a failed police department's culture other than to call it racist, abolish it and replace it with a mysterious unspecified, undefined Department of Public Safety that may or may not have armed public safety employees. D'Zhane Parker, board member of BLM, said, "We deserve a system that prioritizes holistic, health centered, community-driven approaches that will help advance true public safety." I suppose in her fantasyland there are no armed carjackers, armed robbers, domestic assaulters, murderers or rapists.

Following the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, Parker said, "ALL police represent the interests of capitalism and impel state-sanctioned violence. Anyone who works with a system that perpetuates state-sanctioned violence is complicit in upholding while supremacy."

Parker sees no need for government-sponsored law enforcement. No call for using force against someone is very willing to use it against others but not too keen on being held responsible for his or her actions. Unfortunately, in the real world, capitalist or otherwise, someone has to stand in the space between those people who wish to do others harm and their victims. The men and women occupying that space are police officers. More often than not, police use force only when someone tries to avoid lawful arrest or assaults the police. Unfortunately, police have to be armed when they confront those victimizing others, who are often armed to a much greater extent than the police.

As a result of Chauvin's crass brutality and Black Lives Matter's smear campaign of all officers, department cultures are going to have to evolve and cities are going to be forced to shell out considerably higher salaries if they are going to attract young men and women to this much-maligned profession. This is a backfire for both a department with a history of treating its citizens as some kind of lesser beings and a social movement that became so exasperated with the police that they became an ironic reflection of a hate group themselves.

Richard Greelis, of Bloomington, is a retired police officer.