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Letter: Give Fargo police officers and Chief Zibolski a break

Kaplan writes, "We should bear in mind that it is inherently in the psychology of the police to be fault finders, nitpickers and critics. No one has mentioned the most important factor: not what the police think of their job, but what do the citizens think of the police?"

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All of a sudden there is a thunderstorm over the Fargo Police . When you hear the cries of bad morale, toxic environment, bad leadership all you need to do is substitute the name of former Chief Ternes for Zibolski. Same old! Same old.

We should bear in mind that it is inherently in the psychology of the police to be fault finders, nitpickers and critics. No one has mentioned the most important factor: not what the police think of their job, but what do the citizens think of the police?

As a typical citizen I would like to give a few of my impressions of the police.

I was stopped a while ago for having expired registration tags. In Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Daunte Wright was shot to death after a stop for expired tags and his police killer was recently convicted. However, during my stop was I in fear of my life? No, I wasn’t in fear at all. I had full confidence in the Fargo police officer, and indeed he was courteous and businesslike and gave me tips on how to avoid this matter in the future. I was impressed that he had a computer printer right in his squad car and that he had a lot of stripes to be bothering with such a low level offense, but then as a Fargo citizen I’m worth it!

Last summer I was sitting on my front steps when a long line of Fargo bicycle police went by in perfect formation. I thought this was beautiful and exciting and also a fine example of excellent training, physical fitness and devotion to duty. People love long perfectly symmetrical lines in the theatre (the Rockettes), the ballet (Swan Lake), and in military reviews. I had three conversations with members of this police bicycle corps and stressed that this would be a great opportunity for them to blow their own horn and raise their morale.

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The Forum is currently trumpeting problems in the police department, as well they should, but they should also do an article featuring this bicycle patrol, and tell about their training, their motivation and how they contribute to the mission of the police.

Another time I was at the beautiful horticulture garden at North Dakota State University with a friend. Although we looked like Ma and Pa Kettle an NDSU police officer came over to check us out. We explained that we were just examining the nasturtiums and zinnias.

In the fullness of time this man became a Fargo police officer and I saw him on bodycam on television. A man was holding a gun facing the officer who yelled three times ”Drop the gun.” After three warnings the officer shot him, but only in the leg. I said to myself that is absolutely a fine cop. Too often in other places they shoot to kill and it’s really unnecessary. It turned out the guy was holding a cap gun, but he didn’t drop it and it could have been a real gun.

So even though the cops are currently criticizing and complaining, that is just part of their psychology. They have a high stress job and they have a right to vent. Just think of all the good things they do for us every day.

And Chief Zibolski? Give him a break. It should be part of his job description to take the flak that is directed his way.

James M. Kaplan, Fargo, is professor emeritus of French at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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