By now, the spectrum of Minnesota political reporters and pundits have weighed in on state representative Tony Cornish's provocative June 7 letter to the editors of the Star Tribune, "Really, this isn't complicated."
From Rachel Wannarka and Jason Soles' response in the Strib, 'Don't be a thug' — what a disgraceful narrative and City Pages' Mike Mullen's Rep. Tony Cornish, in Star Tribune op-ed: 'Don't be a thug' and you'll be fine to the Amen Corner on Cornish's own Facebook page, there's not much more to add.
Some of statements by the lawman turned lawmaker to the media since the flap, on the other hand, hasn't gotten much scrutiny. Take a remark Cornish made to Nancy Madsen in Rep. Cornish won't back down from letter in Star Tribune, an article published last week in the Waseca County News.
Waiting two years for someone in the metro to support the police
Cornish tells Madsen that constant criticism of the police prompted the piece. She reports:
But Cornish, a retired conservation officer who also had stints as a police officer and sheriff’s deputy, said he’s simply defending law enforcement officers, who are wrongly blamed for the consequences of other people’s actions.
“I’ve waited for two years for somebody from the metro area, from those areas, to say something in support of police,” he said. “I haven’t seen any administrator stand up for them and these advocacy groups keep beating down police, so I said something in defense of them.”
Did no one in a position of authority in the metro area come to law enforcement's defense--or is Cornish simply up to the grandstanding for which he's sometimes known? (One of the most famous recent episodes is that 2016 bid for congress that never quite came together).
We're not quite sure what he means by "administrators," but we'll take it as folks like mayors and the governor. It's not hard to find examples of "somebody from the metro area, from those areas, to [saying] something in support of police."
Here are a few in no particular order:
St. Paul mayor defends police dept., use of deadly force, Tim Pugmire, February 17, 2015, Minnesota Public Radio:
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman defended his police department and its use of deadly force during an interview with MPR News today.
Leaders of the city's African-American community have raised concerns about the St. Paul Police Department's tactics and the city's protocol for investigating complaints against police. St. Paul officers shot and killed at least 11 suspects since 2008. That's more than any other city in the state. . .
In an interview on MPR News today, Coleman spoke publicly about that shooting for the first time. The mayor said it appears to have been justified.
"At this point I've seen no evidence to suggest those aren't exactly the facts — this is an officer-involved shooting that was absolutely a part of procedure and protocol."
Coleman said the other 10 shootings were justified as well. He argues the data are misleading, because the numbers are so small; they don't mean St. Paul's officers are trigger-happy. . . .
"Mayor Betsy Hodges praises law-enforcement partners for gun indictments," Press Release, City of Minneapolis, November 21, 2014:
In response to the indictment today by U.S. Attorney’s office of 11 alleged gang members for federal gun violations, following a multi-jurisdictional investigation that included the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Mayor Betsy Hodges released the following statement:“Getting illegal guns off our streets, and holding responsible those who use them to victimize the people who live and work in our city, are important strategies for making every neighborhood of Minneapolis a safe place to call home. Today’s indictments are another strong step forward toward that goal.“I thank U.S. Attorney Andy Luger and our law enforcement partners at the ATF and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office for their coordination in this investigation. My special thanks go to the Minneapolis Police Department, led by Chief Janeé Harteau, and the officers who played a role in this multi-agency collaboration to get these individuals off the streets.”
The mayor began her speech with a discussion of the uptick in gun violence in the city, particularly in north Minneapolis. She said more officers are joining the police force and that officials are aiming to cut into violent crime by encouraging police to do more community outreach. Officers will also be outfitted with body cameras this year.She acknowledged the city has gone through “several tough, emotional months” following the police shooting of Jamar Clark, which prompted an 18-day occupation of the Fourth Precinct police headquarters and other demonstrations.“Positive police contacts in the neighborhood are up 63 percent over last year and 231 percent over two years ago,” she said. “This work of building community trust has a long-term deterrent effect on violence. The fact that we measure it at all is a sign of change in how we approach policing in Minneapolis.”
Gov. Mark Dayton thinks a chant of “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” during a Black Lives Matter St. Paul march to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds “was a terrible thing to say,” his press secretary said Tuesday.His comment came in response to Rep. Tony Cornish calling on Dayton on Tuesday not to meet with the group unless it apologizes for the chant that law enforcement groups have called threatening. . .
The fervent campaign to restrict the body camera measure is a sign of the rising clout that law enforcement officials have at the State Capitol, but which is also drawing critics who say the influence is excessive.
Law enforcement lobbyists say their political potency is overstated, noting a string of high-profile losses, like their failed push for broader background checks on firearm purchases. . .
Law enforcement groups have advocated on a variety of measures at the Capitol in recent years, ranging from allowing cops to retain license plate reader scans to blocking an expansion of fireworks sales. They also helped shape one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country.
But on Planet Cornish, no one stands up for law enforcement.
Policy and the use of force
The power of law enforcement at the state capitol loops back to the opening sentence in Cornish's letter to the Strib:
Lately some advocacy groups have been asking what we can do to “reduce the use of force by police.”
5) Don’t flap your jaws when the police arrive. Don’t disobey the requests of the police at the time. If you think you are wrongfully treated, make the complaint later.
Police misconduct has cost Minnesota taxpayers millions of dollars in payouts from lawsuits in cities throughout the state. Between 2011 and 2014, the city of Minneapolis paid out more than $9.3 million from police misconduct lawsuits, according to an analysis by Minnesota Public Radio. The city agreed to a $3 million payout in 2013 following a lawsuit filed by the family of David Smith. The 28-year-old man, described as mentally ill, died after being restrained by two officers at a YMCA in 2010, according to the Star Tribune. City officials defended the actions of the officers. Police guidelines require officers to quickly turn a suspect on his side to prevent asphyxiation.