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Latest Minneapolis police review proposal gives complainants options on investigations

Those with complaints about police misconduct in Minneapolis would have their choice of investigative options, under a new plan offered on the eve of Wednesday’s public hearing.

The proposal would let complainants choose between having their charges investigated by the police themselves or by civilian investigators.

This approach represents a major change from the plan introduced earlier this summer that would eliminate the option. The main criticism of that plan was the perceived problem of police essentially investigating police.

Don Samuels

“It is a report newly made public,” said City Council Member Don Samuels who chairs the Public Safety, Health and Civil Rights Committee, which is conducting the 1:30 p.m. hearing.

Samuels said new the plan to restructure the investigation of police misconduct came from input at three public hearings conducted by the city’s Civil Right Department.

“It was put together just days ago,” he said, adding that the new suggestions from the Civilian Police Review Authority Board will be considered at the public hearing.

Eliminated from the options before council members is a plan that would have routed complaints to the Office of Police Conduct Review, which would be made up of civilian investigators from the Civil Rights Department and sworn police officers in the Internal Affairs Unit. The office then would have assigned the case for investigation, with the complainant having no say over who conducted the investigation.

Under the new plan, all external complaints would be filed with the assistant director of the Civil Rights Department, who then would assign the cases for investigation by police or civilians as specified by the complainant.

The new plan would require the addition of more civilian investigators to the department’s current staff of two.The police department’s Internal Affairs Unit has six investigators.

Currently, the Internal Affairs Unit cases are sent to the precinct where the incident occurred for review by the commander and two supervisors. Cases investigated by civilians in the Civil Rights Department are reviewed by a panel of Civilian Review Board members who make recommendations to the police chief.

The changes proposed earlier this summer called for a review of all cases by a panel of two civilians and two sworn officers. Their recommendations then would have gone to the police chief.

The new plan would have cases reviewed by a panel of three civilians and one sworn officer, with recommendations going to the chief after review by the assistant director of the Civil Rights Department. The complainant would have the ability to appeal the decision of the review panel.

All previous proposals called for the police chief to make the final decision about possible discipline.

The new plan gives the assistant director and a new Civilian Police Conduct Oversight Board the power to determine if the discipline ordered by the chief matches the violation.

The new proposals will be explained in detail at the public hearing, which will be held in the City Council Chambers.

Clarification

This story was written based on material posted on a City Council agenda item and an interview with Council Member Don Samuels. The new plan comes from the Civilian Review Authority Board. This CRA board plan was part of the discussion at the Sept. 12 public hearing before the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by chuck turchick on 09/12/2012 - 05:44 pm.

    Samuels proposal passes

    Oh, I forgot. The proposal put forward by Council Member Samuels, with five changes from how it was originally worded — none of them the changes mentioned in this article — and which were included in the ordinance text link from the agenda of today’s Public Safety Committee, did pass on a 3-1 vote with one abstention. It therefore will be moving on to the City Council for action.

  2. Submitted by Michelle Gross on 09/16/2012 - 11:52 pm.

    Errors in Article

    With all due respect, your coverage on this issue has been misleading in ways that keep the community in the dark and discourage the public from getting involved. Where did you get this information that the proposal had changes that would allow the community to have a choice about who would investigate their case? Nothing in the actual proposal included that information.

    It would have been a simple matter to get the real scoop in this proposal. CUAPB wrote a detailed analysis of the ACTUAL ordinance, going line by line. We aren’t lawyers. If we could do this, you could have, too. Alternately, you could have consulted with us, with NACOLE (National Association on Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement), current or former CRA board members and chairs, or other subject matter experts. Virtually all of the experts are opposed to this proposal, as it guts civilian oversight.

    In a matter this important, I would certainly hope you would endeavor to do a better job of informing the community.

    Michelle Gross
    Communities United Against Police Brutality

  3. Submitted by chuck turchick on 09/17/2012 - 04:51 pm.

    “Clarification” fails to clarify accurately

    Regrettably, the clarification appended to this article still leaves many inaccuracies. The “new plan” that came from the CRA board wasn’t all that new. It was passed at a meeting of the CRA board on May 2, 2012, and a link to it appeared on the City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee agenda of July 25, 2012, shortly after that meeting. A motion had passed during that meeting asking staff to provide a comparison of the Internal Affairs process, the CRA process, the restructuring proposal, and the CRA board’s proposal, so within a few days, a link was provided to the CRA board’s proposal too.

    In addition, when the original article said that “the new [CRA board’s] plan would have cases reviewed by a panel of three civilians and one sworn officer,” it neglected to mention that unlike the civilians, the officer would not have voting rights, serving only in an advisory capacity to the panels civilians.

    And in the board’s plan, it would not be the Assistant Director of Civil Rights who would assign cases either to a civilian or a police investigator. Rather, the complainant himself or herself would decide where to file — with Internal Affairs or the CRA — just as it is currently, and that case would be assigned to that agency’s investigators — sworn officers in the former, civilians in the latter. I can see how this error was made, in that the Power Point reads: “All external [complaints], except criminal or management to CPCOB [the new CRA] office.” But the very next sentence reads: “The complainant will choose to file with the IA [Internal Affairs] or the CPCOB.”

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