Cambridge supports resolution to expand federal hate crimes to protect police

The city of Cambridge is the third city in the state of Minnesota to approve a resolution that calls to expand the federal hate crimes law to protect police.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting Oct. 19, Council Member Tiffany Kafer explained that, after reading news about Red Wing approving a resolution in support of law enforcement and calling for anyone who injures an officer to be charged with a hate crime, she wanted Cambridge to consider it as well.

“This resolution is about backing our law enforcement and showing our officers that we support you,” Kafer said. “This resolution is about expanding the federal hate crimes act and showing support for our law enforcement and the dangers they face every day. This is not about religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It’s always been about standing behind our officers.”

City Attorney Jay Squires explained even though Red Wing did approve the resolution, the Red Wing City Council is now reconsidering the resolution to take a closer look at the wording on the resolution and have further discussions and research on the matter.

The last paragraph of the resolution reads as follows:

“The city of Cambridge, Minnesota, agrees with National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury who has called on the (Obama) 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.”

Squires said his office does represent the city of Red Wing and offered to provide the Cambridge City Council with any public information it can in regard to the research it’s doing for Red Wing.

Following discussion, the council unanimously approved the resolution and asked Squires to provide the council with any further information or research materials his office can publicly release following the research done for Red Wing.

Besides Red Wing, the city of Oak Park Heights adopted the resolution at its Oct. 13 council meeting, and Warren County in Ohio was the first entity to adopt the resolution.

In early discussions, Mayor Marlys Palmer was hesitant to approve the resolution in order to gather more information.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt at all that we back our sheriff’s department and our police departments,” Palmer said. “But we heard in citizen’s forum from a citizen concerned about the treatment of citizens as well. And we also need to think about the comments just made by our city attorney and also consider that we represent all citizens of the city of Cambridge. We have always 100 percent backed our public safety departments. I thought I also read somewhere that the American Civil Liberties Union concluded that the backing of police officers was fully covered.”

Council Member Howard Lewis was in favor of the resolution, noting the resolution doesn’t bind the city to anything.

“All this does is asks the President to acknowledge the crisis going on with our police departments and shows our support for the police departments,” Lewis said. “Of course there are always a few bad apples, but 99.9 percent of our police officers do a great job day and night. There is no questions about this. I think it’s a good idea and I would vote yes. To me this is a slam dunk.”

Kafer noted if Cambridge passed the resolution, it would be the third city in the state to do so.

“A hate crime is a crime motivated by a bias,” Kafer said. “I believe this resolution shows that we support our law enforcement officers when they pin on that badge every morning and understand they might not make it home that night to their families.”

Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk said the issue is bigger than the wording in the resolution.

“I appreciate the kind words you are all saying, and this is a bigger picture than just focused on the hate crime,” Caulk said. “All of our law enforcement agencies just want the support of our communities and our fellow brothers in blue and maroon. Do we make mistakes in our jobs, certainly, … but knowing that you are here supporting us is way bigger than this resolution. What we are dealing with right now is something in our society we haven’t seen in 20 years. Hearing the support from this council and from the public is very heart-felt to me, and our all our officers. It’s nice to know we all support law enforcement and we all work together.”

Caulk said he viewed the resolution as an opportunity to show support for law enforcement.

“There are many laws on the books regarding safety of officers and crimes against them,” Caulk said. “I think this resolution acknowledges a concern and recommends funding from a federal level. All this is, is a recommendation and  shows support of the resolution. This is a bigger picture outside the words on this resolution.”