The recent Star Tribune July 31, 2011 story, “Cost of Minneapolis police payouts could hit record this year,” reminds me of the Star Tribune’s four-part April 19-22, 2009 series “The Informant” regarding the misdeeds of the once seemingly impregnable Violent Offenders Task Force (VOTF), which I first exposed in my August 29, 2007 column.
The front page “Informant” story, fourth installment, “Police vs. Police,” displayed a picture of the gang leader with national standing in the Gangster Disciples, Taylor Trump, otherwise known as the legendary Valachi.
None of us should be happy at the demise of VOTF. The city needs it. It worked with the FBI and St. Paul police to streamline work against gangs. Its collapse is due to corrupt members and poor leadership by Chief Tim Dolan.
The “Police vs. Police” theme is seen again in the recent lawsuit against the City by former VOTF unit members Lt. Andrew Smith and Sgt. Pat King.
One of the so-called lead investigators who took credit for developing evidence against Lt. Lee Edwards and Officer Mike Roberts was Sergeant Grant Snyder. He had been identified as the officer controlling a number of informants under the control of the VOTF unit, including the one they felt was the most important, Sheila Haynes. Sgt. Snyder and others maintained that Haynes would identify Black police officers as major drug dealers.
Sgt. Snyder was also identified as one of the officers who brought down then-Lt. Michael Keith, former commander of the VOTF unit. Keith was forced out for raising serious questions about Sgt. Snyder, Sgt. Pat King, and Lt. Andy Smith, among others.
Lt. Michael Keith, later demoted to sergeant, was thrown under the bus by current MPD Chief Tim Dolan.
As reported in my column of April 29, 2009 (“Who governs in City Hall? The continued exposure of a failed system”), the VOTF chickens were again coming back home to roost. The Star Tribune reported that one of the specific directives given to Lt. Smith and Sgt. King, in a February 14, 2011 letter, was that Sgt. King specifically was prohibited, pursuant to Article 16 of the Labor Agreement, not to be present on any MPD or FBI property without prior authorization by Asst. Chief Janee Harteau.
As I reported, that directive was not adhered to. The offices and the files of the VOTF unit were accessed, with documentation and other incriminating evidence purposefully removed in direct violation of the directive by the assistant chief. They were assisted by Sgt. Snyder.
Ultimately, the internal investigation identified principals involved in the violation of the assistant chief’s directive. VOTF began to implode, beginning with federal authorities withdrawing equipment and other assistance, leading to Sgt. Grant Snyder eventually being informed that he was no longer needed in the VOTF unit and was to work in another unit.
And so, four years after investigative reporting by this column, and after being joined by the Star Tribune two years ago, we are seeing the final demise
of the VOTF unit. Many in the cast of characters who expressed satisfaction, personal in nature, in the undermining of Black police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, leading to demotion, prison terms, and an erosion of morale among Black officers in this department, are now understanding how what goes around comes around.
Of course, Black officers were not the only targets of this racially motivated departmental-selected genocide, or “culling.” Lt. Michael Keith, now a sergeant, and his attorney will be taking depositions within the next week, according reliable sources. This in itself will raise additional serious and yet needed questions and inquiry.
So the July 31 story brings full circle the April 22, 2009 Star Tribune front page story “Police vs. Police.” The current story is thus still far from the truth, as even more lawsuits will come to the fore.
We are only seeing the tip of the volcano. When all is said and done there will be an eruption that will bring to people a better understanding of what it’s like in major big-city police departments to work with the kind of animus brought by the racists in the MPD.
Former Mississippi governor Gil Bilbo (racist, KKK member and segregationist extraordinaire) would applaud the Minneapolis Police Department‘s doctrine of setting White officers against Black officers, thus intensifying its internal war against Blacks and fostering racism, nullification and reversal.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.