A couple days ago, the Minneapolis Police Department released a video entitled, "How you can recognize the 8 indicators leading up to acts of crime and terrorism." The clip was produced using federal dollars and the help of a nonprofit called the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL).
As the name indicates, the video, narrated by Vikings receiver Greg Jennings and WCCO TV news anchor Amelia Santaniello, is meant to provide easily digestible information about terrorism prevention for everyday Minneapolitans in an at least somewhat watchable format. And while its release the week before thousands of out-of-towners arrive in town for the MLB All-Star Game might seem like more than a coincidence, MPD spokesman Scott Seroka says it mostly is.
"It's not like we have any credible-type threats," Seroka tell us, adding that the MPD didn't spend a cent on the project.
It's probably good that they didn't, because frankly, we find the whole thing to be more humorous than educational. But before we get into the reasons for that, watch for yourself:
Now that you're up to speed, here are some of the funniest things we saw (feel free to kick in your two cents in the comments):
-- One of the evil terrorists in the clip looks to be a Midwestern soccer mom --
Okay, we know the MPD and CELL wanted to stay miles away from allegations of racial profiling -- that's totally understandable. But really, judging by appearances, the woman in the hoodie could be the first person in human history to commit an atrocity immediately after leaving yoga class:
Her look certainly doesn't conjure up images of Osama, but in the video, the woman is seen nefariously photographing the IDS Center's Crystal Court, trying to sneakily glean information from a computer she shouldn't be looking at, and pumping strangers for intel. We're led to believe she's out to use all this to turn the Twin Cities into a fiery wasteland.
Then again, perhaps portraying a woman who looks like she could be a Bachmann staffer as a terrorist hints at one the main points the video intends to get across. As Tony Webster puts it, "Thank you Minneapolis PD, I now know that literally everyone is a terrorist."
And on a related note:
-- Everybody in the video is really suspicious of everybody else, all the time --
Just check out the look on this ultra-vigilant LRT passenger's face as he scours the train for potential terrorists:
In related news, the Twins recently became the first pro team in Minnesota to install metal detectors at all entry gates -- a policy that goes a considerable way toward making entering Target Field like trying to get through security at MSP.
It's enough to get you thinking along these lines:
"311? Yes, This is Hank Hill, taxpayer. There's a man taking photographs of the stadium with his cellular device."— Wheels (@panndder) July 8, 2014
(There's plenty more where this came from. Click to page two to check it out.)
[page] -- The narration isn't helpful when you really pay attention to what's being said --
Nuggets of wisdom dropped by Jennings and Santaniello include the following:
Jennings: "To conduct an attack, terrorists need a variety of supplies, which may include weapons, a means of transportation, and a communications system."
Santaniello: "While planning, terrorists will often survey a potential target to determine its strengths and weaknesses."
Santaniello: "It's expensive to run a terrorist operation."
We suppose that might be useful information for those who stay up late worrying about those elusive terrorist cells that operate with no weapons, no plan, and no financing.
-- Someone buys a car with a bunch of stolen credit cards. Seriously! --
Here's what a "terrorist" hands over in exchange for a vehicle at one point in the video:
At that point, Santaniello says, "There are many signs to watch out for, such as transactions that are paid for with cash, or pre-paid credit cards."
We're not so sure about the link between paying cash and being a terrorist, but we'll say this: If a car dealer really sells a vehicle for a small wad of cash and some sketchy-looking credit cards, then call us cold, but we really don't feel sorry for him.
-- Alleged "terrorist threats" could just be misinterpreted Minnesota small talk --
As Tony Webster explains with the help of a screencap from the video:
These people are clearly just talking about good ol' Minnesota weather, not terrorism. pic.twitter.com/Otxx6vVMAE— Tony Webster (@webster) July 8, 2014
(More on page three.)
[page] -- The fake Minneapolis cop looks like he could be Anderson Cooper's body double --
Compare for yourself:
-- The video's actors apparently don't understand how smartphones work --
Once again, Mr. Webster is on point:
She's calling 311 to report suspicious activity, never mind that the audio is going to her headphones. pic.twitter.com/SkI472Gw7Z— Tony Webster (@webster) July 8, 2014
We're not opposed to taking proper anti-terrorism precautions by any means. But with so many more tangible problems affecting Minneapolitans' day-to-day quality of life, and keeping in mind that it's not good to constantly live in fear, we can't argue with this analysis:
Okay let's be real though. There's more violent crime in North Minneapolis over a weekend than your little baseball game will have.— Tony Webster (@webster) July 8, 2014
That said, the video didn't cost the MPD anything and did get us chuckling a few times, so that's worth something, right?