Thursday, April 13, 2006

Think Outside The Box

What's the solution for violent crime in Minneapolis? No one seems to have the right answer, although a lot of people have opinions.

Maybe it's time to solicit ideas from the general public. There's a fair chance that some of Minneapolis' leadership monitors this blog, among others, so maybe you can have an impact. Post some ideas in the comments to this post if you like. Replacing Mayor Rybak and the entire City Council and letting Governor Pawlenty pick their replacements is a good idea, but unfeasible, so don't offer that.

Rambix reader Nathan B. has given this a lot of thought. His solution is controversial, but if the status quo isn't working, maybe we need to think outside the box.

I will say I like elements of Nathan's proposal and dislike others, and I recognize there are some obvious constitutional issues to contend with. If you don't like Nathan's ideas, post something better in comments.

The point of posting this is to show that there are thoughtful people out there, many of whom have good ideas.

The Minneapolis leadership can't right their ship, so what have we got to lose by looking at the issue from different angles? If nothing else, the profiling aspect is usually good for some passionate responses.

From Nathan:

The Strib editorial calls for more gun laws to get guns off the streets. We both know that's silly. Writing words on a piece of paper in Saint Paul doesn't cause the gun in a gangster's waistband to spontaneously eject itself into the policeman's collection basket. The gangsters are already illegally buying, carrying, brandishing and shooting their guns. More laws aren't needed.

What's needed is stricter enforcement of existing gun laws, especially the CCW law. Cops need to physically reach their hands into people's waistbands and take out the guns from those who are not authorized to carry them.

Problem is: can't profile. Can't selectively frisk young Black men simply because all the recent shooters have been young Black men. Common sense isn't enough, must be fair. Okay, let's be fair. Let's check everybody. But how to do it?

Wandering wanders.

Select teams of Minneapolis downtown cops should be issued metal detector wands, like the airport screeners have. We could staff them with reserve officers to do the wanding, or hire some off-duty TSA airport screeners - they have a lot of practice at it (and from my observation, most of them are Black, which should help diffuse the racial component). Maybe Pawlenty could lend some Troopers, if he wants to help.

One guy works the wand, the other guy keeps watch with a shotgun. Should be quiet enough, quick enough, safe enough. People are used to metal detectors, searches and wanding at airports, courthouses, even the Xcel Center. This is no different, it's just a mobile security checkpoint, like the DWI checkpoints, only focused on getting illegal guns off the street.

How about proposing that the cops wand everybody found a certain block during certain times? Or every other person going into a certain movie theatre, or every 10th person coming out of a certain dance club? Set up rope lines, cops direct everybody into the lines, open your jacket, lift up your shirt and pants cuffs, quick wave of the wand over pockets, off you go.

Doesn't have to be set for maximum sensitivity. We're not looking for box cutters, we're looking for .44 Magnums. And even if we don't find any, the mere prospect ought to be enough to push gun-toting thugs off the main drag back into the alleys where they belong.

Roving bands of wand-wielding cops, specifically searching for illegally carried guns. I'd support that. Wand me as much as you like: yes I have a gun and here's my permit to carry, thank you very much.