Readers Write: Minneapolis police, custody legal guidelines, cooking at residence

I read with great concern retired Minneapolis Police Department Lt. Kim Voss’ opinion piece (“Why I am one of many former MPD officers,” Feb. 5). As a former public defender, prosecutor and judge in Minneapolis, I had cases throughout the years with countless members of the MPD, including Voss herself. Several times I accompanied police officers on ride-alongs and observed their courageous and conscientious efforts to protect the public’s safety.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs when competent, experienced officers in our community feel compelled to leave the police force to preserve their own mental and physical well-being. While there are “bad apples” in any profession — including my own — the vast majority devoting themselves to law enforcement careers are committed to the public’s best interests, placing their own lives in jeopardy every time they put on their uniforms.

Those who condemn the police would do well to remember this admonition from “To Kill a Mockingbird”: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Sheryl Ramstad, Minneapolis
• • •

I acknowledge that Voss is damaged by her experiences and feels unsupported. However, she lost most of my support and empathy when she referred to police officers as “warriors.” Such a moniker contributes to a sense of them (the public enemy) and us (the righteous police) and only adds to mistrust and social justice inequities.

Ann Sandgren, Minneapolis
• • •

As I began reading Voss’ opinion piece I couldn’t help but feel for our entire Minneapolis police officer ranks who are suffering from PTSD and low morale. Many of our police officers are worthy of our praise and appreciation. They serve an essential role in our community. Thank you, Lt. Voss. Your opinion piece showed the pain you are feeling and calls all of us to support our police officers.

Throughout this opinion piece, I kept coming back to why Voss never took responsibility for a culture, especially in the Third Precinct, of disrespect for people of color that led to the killing of George Floyd. It has a history of severe disrespect to people of color. It’s important when you are a leader, such as a lieutenant, that you also acknowledge your role in not changing a poorly performing culture. It would be equally important for police union members to call out Bob Kroll (remember his disparaging quote about George Floyd after his death) as a leader who over many years modeled and incited disrespect toward Minneapolis citizens by his hateful and alarming language. Your silence is a sign of support.

I conclude by saying to all the good police: Thank you, and I appreciate you. To those instilling and supporting hate: Leave. To the City Council: Support your police through funding and appreciation. To the police union: Acknowledge your role and engage in being a part of the change. To the entire community: Practice respect and appreciation of others. To all of us: Step in to improve our community by supporting the change agents with appreciation and donations (we need hundreds of millions of dollars to close the many gaps Minneapolitans have allowed to grow wider and wider over the years).

Paul Donovan, Minneapolis

Part of a pattern of mistreatment

Last year the entire world witnessed the Minneapolis Police Department’s shocking lack of empathy, something unfortunately familiar to residents of the city. The new video obtained by the Star Tribune (“Earlier video similar to Floyd takedown,” front page, Feb. 3) and the detainment of an innocent bystander, Adrian Drakeford, just weeks before the death of George Floyd in police custody compounds the problem with a picture of unconscionable incompetence.

Drakeford called the police to report a vehicle break-in the night before. No response. A neighbor reports a domestic situation and “the policemen never found the 911 caller or determined whether she was still in danger.” At least on this occasion no one was killed, as on July 15, 2017, when MPD responded to a call of a possible assault, or on May 25 of last year.

A joke about the Keystone Kops might be good for a laugh if the officers had not created such a potentially dangerous situation. How did a report of this absurd incident not raise red flags, and why is this incident only now coming to light? Is there any accountability at MPD?

Dave Hoenack, Minneapolis
• • •

If there was any doubt that the MPD acts as a coordinated gang, the article “Earlier video similar to Floyd takedown” disabuses us of that notion. The article tells us that Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were still “in training.” This incident reinforced that training. The video of how these thugs beat down Floyd showed a well-coordinated attack. This was a dress rehearsal only three weeks before. To me, it is also clear that this is not about a few bad apples but the way MPD trains its officers. A painful irony pointed out by this article is that the officers were concerned about “foul language” falling on children’s ears, but they were not concerned about brutalizing an adult who had done nothing in front of these same children.

Art Serotoff, Minneapolis

Race obscures rather than clarifies

Matthew Larson’s recent opinion piece (“Do Black fathers matter in Minnesota?” Feb. 4) makes some good points about the unfairness of Minnesota’s child custody law. It makes sense that a shared and equal parenting model is more beneficial for children who are part of a custody battle.

However, by saying that the current law is a powerful instrument of systemic racism, even inadvertently, is missing the mark completely. No doubt, slavery was horrific, and dividing Black families for the sake of profit or convenience was a tragedy, but drawing a parallel between the horrors of slavery and the current child custody laws is an exaggeration that unnecessarily fans the flames of the current racial divide.

Yes, racism exists in the country. But to say that Black fathers suffer disproportionately under Minnesota child custody law is to deny the plight of the white, Hispanic, Asian, immigrant or other parents (father or mother) who also (as the author states) can’t afford the time and money to go to court to fight for shared custody. That sounds like a financial issue to me — one that unfortunately strikes across all ethnic and racial boundaries.

There are many inequities in our country and our state; the current custody law sounds like one of them. An equal parenting model should be the goal for any custody law. There are also many racial problems that need solving. Not every inequity is a racial issue, but they all need to be addressed.

Randy Evans, Edina

Premade pasta sauce? Never!

We’ve all been home and cooking a lot; just check my Facebook posts. I loved finding a list of what I should have in my pantry in the Taste section (“Shelf life,” Feb. 4). I proudly stock most items from the “For casual cooks” list, many items from the “For enthusiastic cooks” list and some from the “For the home pro” list. It is on this last formidable list where I was shocked — yes, shocked — to see jarred pasta sauces! No home pro friend of mine is going to reach for a jar of arrabbiata or vodka sauce for their linguine, farfalle or bucatini, many of which may have been carefully handcrafted following skilled pasta grannies on YouTube.

I also hope the listed udon are fresh, and I realize now that I’m out of cured lemons.

Cookin’ in Uptown,

Jerome Ryan, Minneapolis

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