Red Wing reconsiders support for police hate crime legislation

The City of Red Wing is reconsidering a resolution to support changing federal hate crime laws to include any violence against a police officer a hate crime.

“Lately there’s been a lot of negative press on the actions of a few officers, and we just wanted our good officers, our officers out there doing the right thing every day to know that they are supported,” Police Chief Roger Pohlman told MPR News last week.

The City Council last night voted to reconsider the resolution, which it had previously adopted (video).

A member of the Council, who voted for the resolution earlier, said the last line of the resolution — expanding the federal hate crime law — wasn’t even discussed when it was supported earlier.

“In the past, we’ve declined to take a position on gay marriage, we declined to take a position on federal military spending,” Council member Lisa Bayley said. “We did take up a resolution to allow undocumented workers to have driver’s licenses, but we only did that after we discussed whether we as a city council should take a position on it. We didn’t do that at all here.”

Here’s the full resolution:

Whereas: The men and women of our nation’ s law enforcement agencies wear their uniforms with honor, dedication, and integrity as they protect and serve their communities: and

Whereas: These uniforms have made them targets by those who seek to kill or injure law enforcement officers simply because of their profession and commitment to duty; and

Whereas: The national law enforcement family mourns the recent loss of Harris County TX) Sheriff Darren Goforth, Fox Lake (IL) Police Department Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, and McHenry County ( IL) Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Darwin Maness; and

Whereas: The citizens of Red Wing, Minnesota stand with the families of the fallen, and the officers currently protecting our community and the officers throughout the United States; and

Whereas: To honor the twenty-eight officers lost this year as they protected their communities they were sworn to uphold, we ask every officer of the Red Wing Police Department who stands behind the thin blue line to turn on their red and blue lights for 1 minute every day at 11: 00 A.M.; and

Whereas: The City of Red Wing, Minnesota agrees with National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury who has called on the Administration to acknowledge this crisis and asked them to work with us to address the violent surge against police. To expand the Federal hate crimes law to protect police, to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program and to fully fund the State and local law enforcement assistance programs that provide our men and women in the field with the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs and get home to their families at the end of their shift.

“I’ve gone and looked at the comments on the police department’s Facebook and frankly I’ve never seen such despicable language, and it’s not coming from Red Wing,” Council member Peggy Rehder said. “I looked up the names of the people who were posting on Facebook and some of them were pretty interesting felons who don’t like what we’re proposing to do.”

Red Wing Mayor Dan Bender said the passage of the resolution was dividing the city.

“We don’t need any more division. My fear is that … our really well-meant support of the Red Wing Police Department might be unintentionally undermining that support in the community.”