- Civilian review agencies have come and gone in the Twin Cities. In 2012, the City of Minneapolis scrapped civilian oversight in favor of the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR). This agency is controlled at every step of the complaint adjudication process by city staff, including police. As a result, this agency has disciplined 12 complaints out of about 2600 complaints filed by members of the community over the last 7.5 years. This is an appalling 0.4% rate when the national average for civilian oversight bodies is 7-8%.
- St. Paul’s Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC) is not much better. This agency does not conduct its own investigation. Instead, it simply reviews investigations conducted by internal affairs. The PCIARC has a 3% discipline rate. Both agencies suffer from an additional structural problem. When one files a complaint with either agency, you are complaining to police about police. This is also true for smaller communities that do not have civilian oversight at all.
- Even when civilian oversight is in place, these agencies are hamstrung by MN Statute 626.89, subd. 17 which states “A civilian review board, commission, or other oversight body shall not have the authority to make a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer or impose discipline on an officer. A civilian review board, commission, or other oversight body may make a recommendation regarding the merits of a complaint; however, the recommendation shall be advisory only and shall not be binding on nor limit the authority of the chief law enforcement officer of any unit of government.” To achieve real civilian oversight, this section must be overturned.
- Homeless people make up 0.03% of the population of Hennepin County but nearly 20% of arrests in Hennepin County jail, often for livability crimes.
- With several very much high-profile incidents happening locally and around the country involving the police. The public perception for the police has become more and more negative and with more public outcry for an overhaul to how policing is done in this country and in this city. Tensions between the police and its citizens is not something that should be happening.
- The police since 9/11 have been given access to hardware to use that they have not seen before. Old military hardware meant for war is patrolling the streets. The streets of our communities are no place for military equipment. Much of this equipment, which was obtained through the 1033 surplus military equipment program. This breeds terror the likes George Orwell penned in his books.
- Canines are best used to locate fleeing or hidden suspects. However, there have been several incidents of canines attacking and maiming non-suspects. The cases of Frank Baker and Desiree Collins come to mind.
- After recent events in which there are widespread reports of people being shot with rubber bullets, pepper spray, flashbang grenades and other projectiles and chemical weapons while in their own yards, while peacefully protesting, or while reporting the news.
- The use of SWAT teams to serve warrants has increased by 538% since 1980. Yet rarely are their tactics justified as most warrant service is routine and not dangerous. SWAT team raids are deeply traumatizing to the community, especially children.
- The City of Chicago posts information on every lawsuit on their website. We deserve the same easy access to our city’s own data.
- The community can obtain this data through data requests, but it should be widely available through a common access source. Readily providing this data would improve transparency.
- There are currently no limitations on the number of hours that can be worked by officers in either the collective bargaining agreement or in the MPD policy and procedure manual. Multiple studies show that officer exhaustion impairs judgment in ways that lead to increased squad car accidents, increased use of force and ethical breaches, less ability to control biases and other public safety and officer wellness issues. These issues increase workers comp and liability claims.
- It is the public who are the beneficiaries of contracts with public employee agencies. This most certainly includes the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). Yet, City residents are not allowed any direct involvement in the contract negotiations with these agencies.
- This is precisely why the City Council and Mayor must exercise due diligence regarding their responsibility and authority to approve the Labor Agreements, commonly referred to as contracts, with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis (Federation). They must understand the contract is a needed vehicle to respond to the concerns the public has repeatedly raising about lack of police accountability, and that many of them also raised in their own campaigns.
- Previous City Councils have given short shrift to providing a thorough and thoughtful review to the needs of the police contract. Now, community-based groups have put in the labor-intensive work to scour the City’s current contract with the Minneapolis Police Federation and identify crucial changes. It is our expectation that the City Council and Mayor will review the changes we recommend and study the Public Policy Rationale and ensure these changes become focal points during upcoming contract negotiations.
- MPD policy and procedure manual notes the stresses officers experience in their work. Several studies indicate that suicides are the single highest cause of death of police officers, far outranking line-of-duty deaths. Yet there is no provision for regular psychological testing in the collective bargaining agreement or the manual. Having law enforcement officers patrolling the community with guns, while suffering from their own mental health issues, is a major public safety concern for the community. Ongoing psychological evaluations must be conducted by employment psychologists. Mental health issues must not be stigmatized or swept under the rug but must be addressed and treated. Treatment must be offered along with removal from active duty if deemed necessary for successful treatment, and treatment refusal must be grounds for termination.
Things That Have Not Worked:
- Over the years, CUAPB has researched the idea of residency as either a requirement or an incentive. They believe in evidence-based best practices for police reform. Throughout our research, they have never encountered a shred of evidence that requiring or incentivizing police officers to live in the communities in which they work has any positive effect on the quality of policing.
- An analysis by FiveThirtyEight shows that cities with residency requirements had “police forces [that] were less demographically similar to their cities.” Even when controlling for racial and ethnic composition and size of their minority groups, a residency requirement was found to be the most significant variable in the poor levels of demographic similarity to a city’s population. That same study also found that “residency requirements were correlated with less public confidence in the police, specifically in the police force’s ability to protect its citizens.”
Implicit Bias Training
- Training to reduce implicit bias is a major component of many law enforcement reforms. Yet the scientific literature regarding implicit bias training shows that the enduring effects of the training are negligible. A 2016 meta-analysis of 17 studies of this training by Dr. Gene Borgida showed that there was no measurable effect from the training that lasted more than 24 hours. He also noted that none of the studies showed any effect on explicit biases. What his studies demonstrate is that implicit bias training, as currently practiced, is utterly worthless.
Police – Community Relations Efforts
- Far too many reform efforts center on the proposal of “police-community relations.” The underlying premise is that if police and the community could somehow just get along better, trust would be built, and the problem would be solved. This framing places half the responsibility for the problem on the community, when we have little control over the conduct of police. This is a false framing.
- We need to be clear—the issue is and always has been police abuse of authority, the oppression that underpins it, and the lack of accountability that encourages it. No amount of “dialogue” or other relationship-building measures will improve this because “relationships” aren’t the cause of the problem. The real cause is a lack of accountability. Unless efforts shift from “police-community relations” to police accountability, these problems will continue. In fact, if police were held accountable for their actions in meaningful ways right now, police misconduct—including deadly force incidents—would greatly decrease and police-community relations would improve on its own, with no special efforts needed.
 George Orwell wrote the book 1984 about a dystopian society. Many think we are slipping into the same things he mentioned in the book. After the 2016 presidential election, sales of the book were at never seen levels.
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