Maplewood, MN - David Singleton refers to himself as Chief executive of Minnesota Community Policing Services Foundation, Inc, and he dresses in a uniform that closely resembles that of a police officer. Both he and his accomplices carry badges that look like real police badges. Singleton says that they are allowed to have their own "style."
Police officers don't agree. In December, 2016, David Singleton was charged in Ramsey County District Court for doing security work without a license. Those charges occurred after two of of his staff members were mistaken for police officers by a restaurant manager.
In that incident, a manager at Joe's Crab Shack on Snelling Avenue called police officers to report that a couple of "customers," both women, had turned up to investigate a report of a photo of a lynching that was embedded in a table. The manager said that he was unaware of it and that he asked the two women if they were law enforcement.
The two women identified themselves as "investigators" for Minnesota Community Policing Services. The manager later told police that he thought they were law enforcement officers. He requested that they show badges, which they did, along with what the manager described as official-looking IDs.
The manager told the two women that the photo had been removed, and the two women then walked around the restaurant to look for other "negative things" before leaving.
When questioned by police, both women said that they worked for "Chief Singleton's" group without pay, and that the group had been retained by the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commission to investigate the picture.
As it turns out, the league is another group run by "Chief" Singleton, whose fondness for playing cop first became obvious in 2015 when he claimed to represent the mother of a missing child, In that incident, he got his 15 minutes of fame on TV and police officials were alarmed when he would speak to the media. He looked and sounded like a police officer. That child was later found murdered.
Police officials were concerned because not only could the public be fooled into thinking that he was an officer, but that they might also think that he was speaking for a police department.
When local media asked him about the December charge, David Singleton first claimed not to remember it. After he read the complaint, he said it was part of a concerted effort to harass him. He included the Minnesota legislature's recent hearing on a bill that would strictly limit how close a citizen's clothing can resemble a police officer's. Singleton was brought up as an example, and the bill is now included in a public safety bill that is in the House.
When the two women were interviewed about what happened at Joe's Crab Shack, they were asked what else the group did. Their answer: provide security for a St. Paul Clinic. During the interview, an investigator warned the women that if they worked as a security guard without the proper Minnesota protective agent license, that they could be charged.
That investigator later drove by the St. Paul clinic, and found one woman, Michelle Ho, working security, armed and in plainclothes. She said that she was filling in for David Singleton.
The terms of the agreement with the St. Paul clinic were discovered to be that David Singleton would provide “a special public safety consultant that will have a uniform presence” who would be “on-duty” in the early evening, in exchange for being paid $18 per hour.
Other discrepancies were found in the paperwork that was given to the police and what Singleton and Ho said their purpose at the clinic was. There were also discrepancies in what the $18 per hour was for. Singleton said that the money was used to pay him back for money that he had given to the organization.
David Singleton also said that the money was used to provide training for Boy Scout youth. At one point, in 2015, he actually had a charter with the Boy Scouts which allowed his group an Explorer troop. In fall, 2015, the Boy Scouts revoked the charter, while adding a policy stating that such charters can only go to law enforcement groups.
He then filed a complaint against the Boy Scouts with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging racial bias. A Boy Scouts spokesman called the allegation false and it is still pending. Singleton has also filed complaints against one of the investigators, a local Chief of Police, and the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.
When Singleton was told by the Investigator that he needed a license to do security work, he said that he didn't need a license because he was a non-profit. Prior to his April 11, 2016 interview with the police, he didn't have nonprofit status. Although, he filed for and received that status on April 12, 2016.
You might wonder, why doesn't Singleton just go get a license to be a security guard? Because he can't. He's a convicted felon from 2002, when he pleaded guilty to a theft by swindle case.
David Singleton acknowledged that he has made mistakes in the past which he says he has moved on from. He said that he wants to better the community, which he can do as someone who knows both sides of the system.
Do you think that Singleton's actions should be legal? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know what you think in the comments.