The proposal to change the way Minneapolis investigates charges of police misconduct apparently will get some fine-tuning.
The City Council could consider three amendments Friday when it takes up the matter.
Council Member Cam Gordon is offering one amendment that would keep the current option of allowing a complainant to choose whether the investigation should be conducted by a police or civilian investigator.
The new proposal, which would merge the current police and civilian investigators into the Office of Police Conduct, would remove that option — a change that has drawn repeated criticism during a series of public hearings.
Restoring the choice of investigators was suggested in a report by the Civilian Review Authority Board, which also called for the addition of four more civilian investigators.
Currently, the Civil Rights Department has two civilians investigating charges, resulting in a backlog dating to 2009. There are six sworn police officers serving as investigators in the department’s Internal Affairs Unit, which has little or no backlog.
“Obviously, a big part of the problem now is there aren’t enough investigators,” said Gordon, who would like to see the choice restored and then see if there is a need for more investigators.
“We could do this and come back and find out that maybe only 5 percent wanted a civilian investigator,” said Gordon, who added that the opposite could also be true. “I don’t want to put budget concerns on it now or make big assumptions.”
A second amendment from Gordon would add a fifth person — a civilian — to a panel that would review the results of a misconduct investigation.
The current proposal calls for a four-person review panel — two civilians and two officers — who would pass along their findings to the police chief.
The third amendment would guarantee that details of the investigation and the panel review would remain private. Results of the investigation, however, would be made public.
This was an issue raised during the series of public hearings. There was concern that if details of the investigation were available to police and attorneys, charges could be filed against those making complaints or those who were witnesses.
“I have heard back from staff that two of the three make a lot of sense,” said Gordon. Those two were adding a third civilian and keeping investigation details confidential, he said.
The investigation option, however, has raised questions from colleagues, he said, particularly concern that a large number of requests for civilian investigators could swamp the new system and create a backlog.
The proposal creating the Office of Police Conduct was approved in committee with three yes votes, one no vote, one abstention and one absence. It would require seven votes to pass.