As Police Sgt. Joe Friday always said in the old Dragnet police series, “Nothing but the facts, ma’am. Nothing but the facts.” Minneapolis needs more Joe Fridays.
For the five years we served on the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) through 160 meetings, we, citizens and police together, gathered a lot of information and heard testimony from a lot of citizens. We uncovered a lot of misconduct.
These were our facts, known by the police, including factual misconduct, especially by the MPD, on Black police officers. But the only whistleblower we ever saw certified was Lt. Michael Keefe (see our August 29, 2007, column in this paper, “A profile in courage and integrity: Lt. Michael Keefe”).
Over five years, 160 meetings, we weighed the facts against the fictions.
What Lt. Michael Keefe revealed was fact. What Sgt. Kelly O’Rourke is alleging, on the other hand, is fiction (see Star Tribune, August 21, 2009, “Ex-Strike Force member sues Minneapolis”). O’Rourke claims he was reassigned after trying to blow the whistle on the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2007.
O’Rourke’s fiction reported as fact received coverage by local media (print and broadcast), whereas Lt. Keefe’s facts did not. Notice the key difference: Sgt. O’Rourke admits his attempts were oral, not in writing. He never wrote up his reports, never called any press conferences, never went to Internal Affairs, never went to the chief or the mayor or the city council on the record. Instead, we get another famous Minneapolis moment: He speaks, therefore it is.
The facts don’t support his fictions. Even after being reassigned to the Violent Offenders Task Force, he never expressed his concerns nor shared his information with his federal partners (FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, etc.). The facts are that Lt. Michael Keefe was actually doing all of the above.
In this column (May 28, 2008, “Cops help bad guys threaten good citizens”), we reported on the terrifying experience facing an African American family, a mother and a daughter, whose lives were placed in jeopardy because of the MPD and Sgt. O’Rourke. We joined that family in a May 8, 2008, meeting with Chief Dolan. Nothing was done.
Factually? It would be another six months before the gang banger who was supplied information by the police identifying the young lady (who would later testify against him) was apprehended (by county sheriffs, not MPD).
Facts: They hang as a heavy albatross around the necks of those, including the chief, claiming to be against such corruption. The record is clear: The only bona fide whistleblower that this department has known in the last 40 years was Lt. Michael Keefe.
Examine the letter of January 8, 2008, by the Minneapolis City Attorney regarding their investigation of Lt. Michael Keefe’s whistleblowing efforts, first reviewed and examined in this column in January 2008 (“If White police aren’t safe, who is?”).
A very dangerous, yet sophisticated charade is being perpetrated against the general public in an effort to save the careers (and the tax-supported retirement benefits) of members of a department who are clearly out of control.
Don’t you find it interesting that in situations in which African Americans have been beaten and killed by Minneapolis police in the last five years, not one single police officer has stepped up to the plate and helped blow the whistle? The exception is Lt. Michael Keefe.
The Strib and Pi Press reported recently that the departments are not releasing the names of the White officers of the Metro Gang Strike Force charged with criminality. We submit and maintain that this represents a “Code of Silence” as well as support for a culture of violence.
The ultimate victims? As more Whites see what is really being reflected back at even them in the mirror that is the city, more Whites will ask, “If White citizens aren’t safe, who is?”
The examination of the department’s and City’s corruption and decadence that must take place will have to be at the highest level of the federal government, and must include the possibility of the appointment of a special prosecutor and the assigning of special federal agents from outside of the Federal District of Minnesota.
Will it happen? It should. As we said in last week’s column, these abuses are neither the first nor will they be the last in a troubled department and a silent City administration until such an investigation takes place. Stay tuned.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com; hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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