Power becomes Nick Coleman.
Free of the horror of being out of power – of the imperative to sputter impotently about people in power he considers his inferiors – Coleman shows that he’s capable of doing some decent writing.
Like his latest, about Minneapolis’ latest, most ghoulish bit of good news/bad news:
Desperate to stem rising crime — or to appear to be doing something about it — cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles are putting ShotSpotter in their most violent neighborhoods.
So having ShotSpotter is a good news/bad news thing. The good news is ShotSpotter can help fight crime. The bad news is your town has reached the point where it needs a computer system to track all the gunplay.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Tim Dolan summoned the TV cameras to brag about the salubrious effects of a ShotSpotter system installed late last year in a high-crime area of south Minneapolis where the hoods have been resistant to a number of crackdowns. The mayor qualified his praise for ShotSpotter by acknowledging that “technology alone will not win this battle.”
But the casual citizen may be forgiven if he interpreted the horn blowing to mean that, at last, the law is a step ahead of the thugs.
That may be wishful thinking.
It is. Like so many of the police’s tools, it helps crime victims only indirectly:
ShotSpotter will not keep you from getting shot. It will only direct the cops to the general vicinity of where your corpse lies on the sidewalk, cooling.
That’s how it worked Jan. 2, when ShotSpotter detected gunfire at 35th Street and Portland Av. S., where cops found Douglas McFarlane dead on the sidewalk. His killer has not been apprehended.
As one critic has said, ShotSpotter could be called “The Alarm That Tells Police When It’s Too Late.”
Of course, that’s true of everything that a victim can use (except a legal, permitted firearm in their own trained hand); they bring the cops to a crime scene, usually one where the perp is long gone.