Last night at Target Field, a moment of silence was held for Joseph Gomm, the first corrections officer in Minnesota killed in the line of duty. It comes a few days after the state paused to pay its respects to him. Many of the security team members at the stadium are cops and corrections officers.
A couple of days after Gomm’s death, Minneapolis released the body cam video of police killing a black man in North Minneapolis who reportedly had been firing a gun.
And the divisions over the police were renewed anew.
In his morning political newsletter today, Blois Olson identifies this split between rural and city lines. The police are a wedge issue now.
The Blevins shooting and very raw, transparent video makes everyone a juror – immediately – begins to illustrate the different opinions between metro and greater Minnesota voters. The opinions will vary, but a gut check says that they are different between greater Minnesota and urban DFLers couldn’t be more illustrative than candidate reactions.
The fact that multiple candidates for the DFL already condemned the shooting is a paradigm shift that couldn’t be more obvious of politics in the past 20, if not 5 years. Police are an institution that DFLers in urban areas, or those of the more “progressive” label seem to be running against – due to the warranted feelings of key DFL constituencies.
For yesterday, it’s doesn’t seem acceptable to be a DFL candidate and suggest that the public could have been in danger – therefore deadly force was warranted. However, think about it, guns being a well-polled issue for DFLers this year because of mass shootings, including in schools creates a dichotomy. If Thurman Blevins was running near, or into a school, would ANYONE have suggested that the police try to calm him? Or figure out he was a man in distress? No. Ask the woman in the video walking her child in a stroller visible on the body cam footage- any parent’s gut is that she was scared like a mother of any child in a school where there has been a shooting.
The shooting could be in Sartell, or the suburbs. The idea that the police used split-second, life in danger decision making is something that very few, if any, will candidates ever face. Yet the reaction, feelings, opinions and ultimately the decision of voting one way or another will likely be very different in August, but certainly in November for voters who respect versus distrust law endorsement whether in Greater Minnesota or the metro area. The differences are notable and warranted on both sides – but they are distinct and differentiating.
There are legitimate issues of policing to be debated, for sure.
But it falls today to Amy McKinnon, whose father, two brothers, and a cousin were or are cops, to explain what it’s like to love one. She writes her op-ed in the Boston Globe.
We talk about the bad cops a lot. It’s essential. When people are charged with the power to take away someone’s freedom or even life, we as a society must hold them to a higher standard. America has bad cops, some bad departments, and a justice system weighted against people of color. Some police bristle at Black Lives Matter, assuming it means blue lives don’t. Others recognize that it is a plea to society, to law enforcement, to the courts, for the same civil rights afforded other Americans. That black lives matter too.
Lately it seems even the decent police officers are no longer considered the good guys, but the ones deserving of our scorn. Yet we often fail to acknowledge that, at least in Massachusetts, where police receive some of the most sophisticated and frequent training, it is often other cops who hold their suspect colleagues to account. That’s the case in the current State Police probe of overtime abuse and special treatment. It was the case when a former Cohasset police chief was accused of abusing his position, and of forgery and physical abuse. And more recently, in Quincy, when more than a dozen police officers testified against one of their own lieutenants in a federal trial that resulted in his being sentenced for double dipping.
What people don’t read about are the calls where an officer responds to their own neighbor pacing the street, out of his mind because he woke to find his young son had died unexpectedly in his sleep. Or how a cop has to press clean towels to a new mother hemorrhaging into a toilet as her newborn lies nearby, take her pulse, keep her calm — himself too — as the ambulance races from the other side of town. There’s no training to prepare a police officer to knock on a parent’s door at 3 a.m. and tell them their child is dead.
“The good cops, the ones who try to fulfill our impossible expectations to be always courteous, always exercise impeccable judgment, to always run toward danger as the rest of us run away, deserve our support,” she concludes.
If the police represent a political ideology now, is that possible?