Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This Is Why We Need More Hmong Police Officers in the 4th Precinct!
Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman
On Monday I was driving to work and I saw a car that had been totaled and spun around facing the wrong way on Emerson. I thought about calling it in to 311 to say that we had a vehicle that obviously wasn't drivable and needed to be towed away. But a little voice seemed to speak up in my head that I should hold off. I couldn't say why, but I've learned to trust that intuition. It's a good thing I did, because tonight at the Hawthorne Crime Prevention and Family Safety meeting, I found out what happened...
ADDENDUM: The accident happened early on Saturday morning. While it has been described as a "hit and run," the vehicle that crashed into the parked car did NOT drive away. However, the driver and any other passengers did flee on foot and have not been caught.
ADDENDUM: See comment section for a post from an officer who responded to the call. It seems the officer did everything right, including getting one of the night shift Hmong officers to come and translate. Perhaps the confusion was more around the bewilderment any of us would feel if our car was totaled at 2 a.m. in this way. Still, I stand by my claim that we need more Hmong police officers in the 4th Precinct on the day shift, but I am deeply grateful for the service of the men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department.
A Hmong family who lives at 26th and Emerson owns the vehicle in question. They were woken up at about two in the morning (it's unclear if this happened at 2 a.m. on Sunday or Monday) to a loud crash. Their beautiful car was the victim of a hit-and-run by a driver they say was drunk.
Two thoughts immediately sprang to mind upon hearing the story and knowing what the vehicle looked like: thank GOD nobody was hurt, and how in the WORLD does the other car manage to drive away from something like that?
The family did call 911, and the police did show up. But it seems that the response was not helpful enough. I spoke with one relative and from what I can gather, no translation services were offered. Organizers from CURA are helping us and the family work with the insurance company because-surprise!-they don't have Hmong translation either.
About a month ago, a meeting was held at Farview Park where, based on a report, we asked CMs Samuels and Johnson to help get a Hmong police officer in the 4th Precinct - and one that works the day shift. We know the steps to make that happen won't be easy, but we need to be intentional about doing everything we can to accomplish this.
In the meantime, this family needs a police visit from someone who speaks Hmong or has a translator. It was brought up at our Crime and Safety meeting that Hawthorne sponsored some business cards that read, "I do not speak English. Please call ______, _______, or ________ for translation in (insert language)." We were asked if we could start this program up again as a building block for police relations with the Hmong community, and we will do that.
I want to make it clear that I am not blaming anyone except the hit-and-run driver, but I am emphatically stating a need in Hawthorne and the 4th Precinct and I hope that we can make this happen.