- Set the expectation from day one that we will not tolerate racist speech and actions on the force;
- Support the Chief's work to enforce that expectation and build community trust;
- Continue to build a department that looks like our city, by partnering with Minneapolis schools and community organizations to actively recruit a diverse pool of police recruits;
- Make sure that the criteria that we use to hire new officers and form cadet classes reflect our community's deeply-held values;
- Improve the Police Department’s early-warning systems to identify and help officers treat problems before they turn into misconduct;
- Strengthen the City's ability to track and punish misbehavior and proven patterns of misconduct, including by negotiating changes to the contract with the Police Federation that will make it easier to enact appropriate discipline swiftly;
- Improve citizens' and police officers’ ability to file complaints about misconduct without reprisal; and
- Empower staff in my office to work with the police and the community to increase positive relationships and root out systemic problems.
So, I'd say this is basically a mix of planning and posturing. I actually really do think that expectations count for a lot, but part of how you show that these REALLY ARE your expectations is that you have consequences when your expectations are not met, more substantial than sighing deeply and shaking your head sorrowfully. Hiring a more diverse police force is a good idea. Working on changing the contract to make it easier to discipline or dismiss bad officers is a good idea.
I'm not sure what she means by "make sure that the criteria that we used to hire new officers reflects our values" -- what criteria do we use now that do not? I tracked down the page with information about recruiting and hiring. Some interesting notes:
* You have to be 21 years old, have no felonies on your record, and you need a driver's license. Those all seem pretty reasonable.
* You need to be a U.S. Citizen. That's an interesting one. Why would a permanent resident not be eligible to serve as a police officer? There might be a good argument for this, but I wonder if we're ruling out some helpful diversity by requiring citizenship. (I mean, obviously you need to be a legal resident and obviously you need to have lived here long enough to have a decent understanding of how the laws work, etc.)
* You can't be color blind and your uncorrected vision can't be any poorer than 20/100. This is interesting; I would never have qualified to be a Minneapolis police officer on crappy sight alone. Molly, also, can't ever be a Minneapolis cop. I suppose the argument here is that if you're struggling to apprehend a suspect and they knock your glasses off your face, they need you to still be able to function. I'm not sure if this comes up often enough to be a legit argument. (I suppose if you really REALLY want to serve, there's Lasik. I don't think they rule people out who see adequately due to Lasik.)
* You have to pass a psychological test and a drug screening.
* There is a background check that includes your driving record; I'm going to hazard a guess that they don't care all that much if you've had a speeding ticket but that a DWI would be a big deal (and no, it wouldn't show up as a felony because in Minnesota, your first DWI is a misdemeanor and subsequent DWIs are gross misdemeanors). (Oh, apparently a gross misdemeanor is an automatic disqualification but that first-time DWI, you might squeak through.)
* You have to pass a physical fitness exam. (Standards information is here.)
* They note that you have to pass the physical exam to even qualify for the "oral exam" which I'm guessing might be what normal people call an "interview," although maybe not?
I am not sure if she thinks they place too much emphasis on the physical exam, or if she thinks non-citizens should be allowed, or if she dislikes the content on the oral exam -- there's a lot that could be wrong with these standards, honestly. I looked at the physical requirements and they don't look unreasonable. (I couldn't meet them, but that's not because they're unreasonable.)
I will say that I look at these requirements and wish that -- as with the U.S. Military -- there were some testing to see if you were smart. I know, I know, IQ testing is inherently flawed and racially biased and all the rest. But, if you look at the U.S. military's assessments, I think they've made a pretty serious effort over the years to do some approximate sorting that has served them pretty well. And I don't want people who are as dumb as a brick to be working in the police department. (Maybe that's part of the oral testing?)
(I'm going to hazard a guess, which may be wrong, that the forensic scientists working in the Crime Lab have a different route to entry.)
Anyway. The other update is on that encounter I had with the MinnPost reporter at the State Fair. You can now read his article, complete with a lovely picture of me with my daughters that I didn't even notice him taking. (He was also eavesdropping on the conversation, and I didn't notice that, either.) I was impressed with this article because he spelled all our names correctly, he didn't misquote me, and the picture perfectly captures Holden's OVERLY INTENSE EYE CONTACT and my skeptical posture. Dear Star Tribune: clearly, you laid off one of your best people.
Election of 2013 Index of Posts