There are few if any consequences for Minneapolis police misconduct, and that’s fostering more police misconduct according to a report from the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority Board (CRA).
The board is made up of residents of Minneapolis appointed by the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor to fairly, objectively and independently consider complaints of misconduct by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. Part of it’s job is to participate in Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan’s performance review.
The board says for the second year in a row, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak conducted the performance review without the board’s input. However, the board has issued it’s own performance review report, which is very critical of Dolan’s performance.
The report says:
The MPD under Chief Dolan has not made discipline of officer misconduct a priority, and the CRA Board has no confidence that Chief Dolan and the MPD command staff will issue discipline on sustained allegations of misconduct going forward. Even in cases where discipline is initially issued, the MPD has settled grievances filed by the affected officer(s) by reducing or removing discipline—without defending those disciplinary decisions through the established arbitration process.
Discussions between the CRA and the MPD have also revealed that the MPD places great concern about the negative effects of discipline on officer’s records, but little or no corresponding concern for the effects of officer misconduct on citizens bringing complaints before the CRA. In some instances, the MPD has acknowledged problems with officer conduct, yet in response has chosen to pursue only officer training instead of discipline.
In sum, this means that citizens of Minneapolis cannot expect the city’s police officers to be held to MPD policies—throwing the legitimacy of those policies in doubt. The City of Minneapolis had paid out large sums of money to settle litigation involving allegations of police misconduct of late.
A lack of discipline in the MPD fosters a culture of impunity, which will likely lead to further cash payouts related to police misconduct lawsuits for the foreseeable future.
While the CRA is in a position to call attention to these issues and sustain allegations of misconduct supported by the CRA’s investigations, current city ordinances do not allow the CRA to remedy unwillingness by the Chief to impose discipline.
The MPD has not demonstrated a desire or ability to change its disciplinary practices of its own accord. Only with action by the Mayor and City Council, and with continued concern and input from citizens of Minneapolis, will this situation improve.
“I am hopeful that this Report again will lay a foundation for improved relations between the Minneapolis Police Department, the CRA and the residents of Minneapolis”, said Don Bellfield, Chair of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority.