Two summers ago and through that fall it was a tumultuous time when law enforcement was under siege and under the microscope by the public and the Minnesota Legislature for what the Metro Gang Strike Force had been doing–miscues with money and property, issues of accountability and oversight, and violation of people’s rights. There was a Legislative Auditor’s report, a Special Investigation funded by the Department of Public Safety, and many public hearings by the appropriate legislative committees.
Reading the Star Tribune today I felt somewhat what Michael Corleone felt when he stated, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” The reports featured in the article are pulling the public back in to see what the heck is happening to Safe Streets Task Force which was supposed to be held accountable by an oversight group which has never met.
After I read the Star Tribune article and the Department of Public Safety(DPS) reports I am left with many questions which the public has no answers for. Some of them are as follows:
- Should the Safe Streets Task Force come under the Violent Crime Coordinating Council (VCCC)? Why are they not under the VCCC jurisdiction now?
- By being under the auspices (Safe Streets Task Force) of the FBI, are the state reporting and documenting requirements, such as for forfeiture of money and property, being done by the local police? Federal law may exempt local police to have to do this.
- Where can the public get access to the public records of the Safe Streets Task Force for accountability and transparency reasons?
- What are the differences between the Minnesota’s operating procedures and guideline manual and the FBI’s control and policies? Less accountability? More? Less reporting or more?
- Have people’s rights been violated, for example, by taking their property illegally or denying their due process?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of questions that should be asked and answered by the appropriate people in front of the appropriate Minnesota legislative committees, Representative Cornish is chair of one, the other is chaired by Senator Warren Limmer.
Various comments in the reports and article leave me flabbergasted, “that people who work here have differing opinions regarding exactly what their mission is.” So if there is misunderstanding of what “their” mission is, How is this playing out in the streets?
So is there again playing out the divvies with law enforcement of who gets the cash or property which may or may not have been seized legally? One gets that impression..
Quite intrigued by Howie Padilla’s comments, who is the St Paul Police spokesman, when he states, hard to respond “to the allegations—when it is attributed to vague sources” Well, ask to see their statements.
The many good cops, elected sheriffs, and police chiefs I know would find this kind of infighting, finger pointing, and lack of accountability, detestable and embarrassing. So does the public.