County changes policy on spitting on a law enforcement officer – now it only counts if it is on their “face or hands”

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HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN- According to reports, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is changing its policy on cases where someone assaults law enforcement officers by spitting on them.

Under the new policy, anyone accused of spitting on an officer’s uniform or boots will not be prosecuted by Hennepin County.

It is written in Minnesota law that anyone who “intentionally throws or otherwise transfers bodily fluids or feces at an officer” can be arrested on felony charges.

However, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that his office is too busy to prosecute felony cases against people who spit on any part of a law enforcement officer’s body or uniform, with the exception of their faces or hands. Freeman stated:

“We think the harm caused by spitting on the boot or uniform does not rise to the level of spitting on their face or hands.”

His office is simply too busy to worry about enforcing the law, adding:

“We have a full deck.”

Cases rejected under the new policy will not automatically be transferred to the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution because the city prosecutor does not handle felony cases.

Since spitting on a law enforcement officer is a felony, the buck stops with Freeman’s office.

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) Executive Director Brian Betters denounced Freeman’s policy change, especially in the midst of increasing violence against law enforcement officers. He said:

“It’s ridiculous the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office will not uphold state law and not prosecute felony-level assault. Just as violent crimes in our communities are increasing, physical assaults of law enforcement officers is also increasing.”

Hamline University Law Professor David Schultz said it is completely within Freeman’s power to ignore Minnesota Law. He stated:

“Prosecutors have incredibly broad discretion to not only prosecute or not prosecute, but based upon how they view the evidence, perhaps what type of changes to bring.”

In a recent announcement, Freeman stated he will not be seeking the position of Hennepin County Attorney in the upcoming November 2022 election. In a statement regarding his decision, he said:

“Next year, I will have been Hennepin County Attorney for 24 years, the longest serving in county history and I will also be 74 years old. It’s time to move on. It has been a marvelous privilege to serve the people of Hennepin County and to lead the State’s largest and most experienced public law office.”

According to reports, on the north side of Minneapolis, neighbors describe the violence as “unbearable” as there have been 33 homicides in the Fourth precinct so far this year. For comparison, in 2020 there were 24 homicides and in 2019 there were 13. 

Buzzy Bohn, who’s lived in the Folwell neighborhood for 42 years, said in a statement:

There’s gunshots a lot — it’s weekly, if not daily and I’ve heard them during the daylight. There’s been a noticeable uptick in crime this summer and I lived here through ‘Murderapolis.'”

She added:

“It’s like nobody is safe. People are being shot, people are being carjacked.”

Becka Thompson has lived in North Minneapolis since the 1990s. She moved into her Victory home 11 years ago. She said:

“I heard pop, pop, pop and it was so close. I raise my child in this house. All of these kids that get shot, I think of him and I think of my nieces and nephews.”

Bohn and Thompson are among more than two dozen residents who signed a letter to Governor Tim Walz, asking him to send the Minnesota State Patrol or Minnesota National Guard to the area to help Minneapolis police.

They describe north Minneapolis as a “warzone” and criticize the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey for their responses. The residents wrote:

“They are either unwilling or unable to save us.”

Thompson said:

“I feel like we were just patiently waiting for someone to care and nobody ever did.”
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Since George Floyd’s death, proactive policing in Minneapolis dropped dramatically as crime exploded

September 17th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- According to reports, policing efforts have dropped dramatically in Minneapolis since the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. 

Reuters reported that traffic stops decline 85 percent this past May in comparison to May 2020. In that same time frame, suspicious behavior stops are down 76 percent while routine business checks have also plummeted by 76 percent.

Over the last year, crime has skyrocketed in the Minnesota city. Up until this point in 2021, Minneapolis has seen 65 murders. If the rate continues at the current pace, murders in the city will reach a two-decade high.

Additionally, the month of May reported 91 shootings, which nearly doubles the May shootings in 2020. Violent crimes increased in June 2020 and have remained high since. Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher said in a statement:

“There isn’t a huge appetite for aggressive police work out there and the risk/reward certainly, we’re there and we’re sworn to protect and serve, but you also have to protect yourself and your family. Nobody in the job or working on the job can blame those officers for being less aggressive.”

Another officer who retired after the death of Floyd explained that “it’s self-preservation.” The officer said that even his supervisor was not encouraging officers to go out and stop crime. he added:

“The supervisor was like, ‘I don’t blame you at all if you don’t want to do anything. Hang out in the station.’ That’s what they’re saying.”

Reportedly, in the past year, 25 percent of Minneapolis police officers either retired or quit. The mass exodus has created a major staffing crisis for the department. Police spokesman John Elder said:

“We were running from call to call and didn’t have time for anything else.”

Mayor Jacob Frey said:

“Our city and our officers are having to handle a host of issues that no other jurisdiction wants to touch with a pole. Cities do need police officers and yes there are severe consequences when the numbers get as low as ours.”

An officer who chose to remain anonymous stated that officers now turn a blind eye to minor offenses and elect to take longer routes to 911 calls in hope that matters resolve themselves before an officer’s arrival.

Reuters’ research seemingly reinforces this notion as April response times were up 40 percent to 911 calls as opposed to April 2020.

Literature by law enforcement experts state that proactive policing like traffic stops and suspicious behavior stops have positive and safe benefits for the community as a whole. University of Nebraska Omaha Criminologist Justin Nix said in a statement:

“The evidence that proactive policing works is pretty solid. If police pull back in the aggregate and they’re also pulling back in areas where crime is concentrated, that can be bad news.”

Not all agree. Councilman Steve Fletcher believes that proactive policing is corrosive to community relations between police and the citizens they serve. He said:

“Having to pull over 400 people to capture a gun, that’s a lot of people feeling harassed and mistrustful of the police in our city.”

Citizens are now experiencing the consequences of a neutered police department. Mother Brandy Earthman was shocked to find 10-11 bullet holes in her house upon coming home from an aunt’s birthday dinner. 

Her children had been playing when bullets came flying though the door. Earthman’s 19-year-old son was shot in the arm and her three-year-old vomited from the terrifying gunshots. She said she is making efforts to move as far away from Minneapolis as possible.

Six-year-old Aniya Allen was shot in the head while eating McDonald’s in her parent’s car. She succumbed to those injuries shortly thereafter. After learning of the death, a man named Marcus Smith reconsidered his anti-police rhetoric and support of protestors. 

He now wears a kevlar vest and patrols the very corner where Aniya died. Smith explained:

“It’s now safe to carry your firearms legally, illegally. You can do that in Minneapolis. It’s a gangster’s paradise.”

The constituents of Minneapolis face a ballot question in November that would eliminate the police department in favor of a Department of Public Safety. On September 7th, Judge Jamie Anderson of the Hennepin County District ruled that the language on the ballot was “vague, ambiguous and incapable of implementation.”

Mere hours before the ballots were set to begin printing, city council members amended their wording. Attorneys for petitioner Don Samuels, who previously served as a city council member, have raised similar concerns with the council’s new wording.

The attorneys requested an emergency hearing of Judge Anderson, writing:

“The new ballot language is designed to evade the court’s order and injunction, will mislead and confuse voters, and must not be included on the November 2, 2021, general election ballot.”

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Local restaurant owner says Minneapolis “is run by gangs” and desperately calls for more policing

September 2nd, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – According to a recent report, a local restaurant owner spoke about crime impacting the city of Minneapolis and alleged that the “city is run by gangs”.

He remarked on how the low morale in policing is creating a detrimental effect for safety overall.

The owner of Seven Steakhouse Sushi & Rooftop in Minneapolis, Ken Sherman, recently spoke up about the crime in his city, saying that it seems the only thing criminals are afraid of these days are even worse criminals:

“This city is run by gangs. The only thing a bad guy is afraid of is a badder guy.”

Sherman explained that point in furtherance, saying that individuals hosting malintent aren’t dissuaded unless they come across something that serves as a direct threat to them – and he simply isn’t seeing police making patrols like they used to:

“I’m on a rooftop on Hennepin and Seventh. I can be on that rooftop on a Saturday night and get there at 9 or 10 p.m. be there till 2-2:30 a.m. and never see a police car and absolutely never see a policeman walking down the street.”

“The only police we see are off-duty cops hired by other bars or restaurants.”

But Sherman doesn’t think this is necessarily a problem created by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Instead, he says that this is an issue stemming from the low morale instilled by an overzealous city council that sought to condemn the entire police force over the past year:

“The moment that the city council condemned an entire group of men, many of whom have devoted years of their life to keep us safe, and said that they were systemically racist and they should be abolished, they destroyed the morale of the MPD.”

“Now what you hear about is how 250 members of the police force have left, but that’s okay now according to the politicians because now they are going to fund to get more cops.”

Sherman was being slightly sarcastic in that sense when saying “but that’s okay now according to the politicians because now they are going to fund to get more cops,” because he sees the situation as 250 officers with years of experiencing leaving the force, only to be replaced by inexperienced officers.

What seems to upset Sherman the most in the city council’s characterization of the MPD is the notion that somehow the entire police force is systemically racist:

“In terms of them being systematically racist, I take issue with that.”

He explained that while there can certainly be racist individuals within a police department, he added that any entity composed of a large amount of people can inadvertently host these sorts of unsavory individuals:

“There certainly are members of the police force who are racist; there are members of the realtors association who are racist; there are members of every organization that are racist.”

Another area Sherman believes is causing the low morale within the MPD is the fear of losing their jobs or being sued – or worse – for making a mistake while on the job.

Sherman also added that there is a real fear within the police department that an officer could be shot – and no one would bat an eye if it were to happen:

“If a cop gets shot, nobody seems to care.”

These days, Sherman feels like reaching out to elected officials is almost pointless, saying that officials never seem to acknowledge these sorts of concerns that he and others feel within the community:

“I don’t talk to the city. I don’t talk to the politicians. I’ve given up. There’s no point.”

When it comes to running his restaurant, Sherman feels that the only thing he can depend on now is the effectiveness of his hired security outside the restaurant – which consists of roughly 15 people patting down customers and waving wands to ensure customers don’t have the propensity to cause trouble while inside:

“We just know [the police] aren’t coming, so we do it ourselves, and we’re fine with that.”

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As crime explodes in Minneapolis, activists have come one step closer to abolishing the police department

(Originally published August 9th, 2021)

This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – A ballot measure that will ask voters in Minneapolis in November whether they’d like to see the Minneapolis Police Department replaced with an ambiguously defined “Department of Public Safety” could radically change how policing is conducted in the city – if the ballot measure is successful.

In late July, the Minneapolis City Council approved the ballot question language related to whether voters in the city would like to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department and have that replaced with a “Department of Public Safety”, which this measure will be voted on by residents in the upcoming municipal general election on November 2nd.

This ballot measure that voters in Minneapolis will be deciding on was proposed by the group known as Yes 4 Minneapolis, and the group’s website revolves around advocacy of “changing the charter” – a reference to the Minneapolis City Charter that outlines specifics of policing, such as how many police officers need to be hired.

According to Yes 4 Minneapolis’ website, which boasted that abolishing the MPD is now “on the ballot”, gives the following synopsis of what the “Department of Public Safety” is that the group would like to see replace the MPD:

“The Department of Public Safety will change the current police-only model of public safety, to allow the City of Minneapolis a funded, accountable and comprehensive public health approach to public safety.

This will allow us to be both proactive and responsive to the community, adding a range of strategies, right-sized responses, experts, professional personnel, and licensed peace officers (also known as, police officers), when necessary.”

When reviewing the text of the actual measure that will be presented to voters this November, the primary focus goes into explicit detail on the abolishment of the MPD through amending the City Charter – but only offers vague explanations on what residents in the city would be getting in return post-abolishment of the MPD.

As noted in the “explanatory note” of the ballot measure language, a clear picture is provided on how the MPD will be dismantled – to include much of the powers the mayor held with the police force in Minneapolis – but little more than a concept is what Minneapolis residents will get in return if they vote to approve this measure:

“This amendment would create a new Department of Public Safety, which would:

(1) Combine public safety functions of the City of Minneapolis into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, with the specific public safety functions to be determined.

(2) Include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety.

(3) Be led by a Commissioner of Public Safety. The appointment process for the Commissioner would include a Mayor nomination and a City Council appointment. The Mayor would not have complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Department of Public Safety.

This amendment would also do the following:

(1) Remove from the Charter a Police Department, which includes the removal of its Police Chief, and the removal of the Mayor’s complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Police Department.

(2) Remove the City Council requirement to fund a police force of at least 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents.

(3) Remove City Council authorization to impose additional taxation on taxable property in the City of Minneapolis of up to 0.3 percent of its value annually to fund the compensation of employees of the police

force.”

As noted in the above “explanatory note” regarding the ballot measure, there’s nothing that really defines what the “Department of Public Safety” would actually do – or look like – with the ballot measure even admitting in its own language that “the specific public safety functions” are “to be determined”.

It’s frankly concerning enough that a ballot measure proposing to literally abolish the police department in Minneapolis will be presented to voters this November, which those voters will undoubtedly be delivered a continuous feed of guilt-inducing propaganda to vote in favor of the measure.

But what makes the matter even worse is that whatever would potentially replace the MPD isn’t even fully articulated by the proponents who managed to get this on the November ballot.

As it stands, this “Department of Public Safety” only notes one element of hierarchical structure (being led by a “Commissioner of Public Safety”), claims the department will only “include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary”, and what the department will do is basically “to be determined”.

Not to mention, with this sort of wing-it approach that is being presented by the proponents of the “Department of Public Safety”, it’s not even clear how much it will cost to establish and maintain this vaguely defined department.

Sure, it could perhaps cost less than the current costs associated with the MPD in a monetary sense, but it could also potentially cost even more than the current ticket price imposed on taxpayers for the MPD since such broad terms have been used to explain (or rather, not explain) what the “Department of Public Safety” will do.

This is extremely dangerous to even entertain having come to fruition, because no one in Minneapolis – to include the propagators of this ballot measure – knows what the “Department of Public Safety” will actually be, do, or how it will be structured to accomplish what the crafters of the ballot measure haven’t even adequately defined yet.

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