Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Outreach and Engagement Update (March)

City Of Minneapolis LogoEducating, engaging, and involving the citizens of Minneapolis on activity updates regarding the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance (MCRO) is a key priority for The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. That is why we are happy to share two outreach events that occurred over the last two weeks.

Supporting the idea of including Civil Rights in the discussion of workplace inclusion, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) partnered with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, The Human Rights Division of the Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO),and other statewide organizations to host a table at The Forum On Workplace Inclusion on March 19th and 20th. In this space, the department was able to connect with professionals who had questions regarding their Civil Rights from a corporate perspective.

Continuing the increasing focus on community engagement, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights also hosted a table at the 2nd Annual Community Connections Conference. Understanding that this years theme focused on “Common Ground: A city that works for all”, the MDCR took an opportunity to connect and answer some questions regarding how the MDCR can benefit both city government employees and residents.

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The Department of Civil Rights Congratulates Director Velma Korbel on her Reappointment

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights would like to extend a heartfelt set of congratulations to Director Velma Korbel for her confirmation as Director of the department for 2014 to 2016.

The journey of a strong leader is always a challenge, but her vision and unceasing commitment to human rights and racial equity in the City has been undeniable. As Council members mentioned, the Director of Civil Rights is one of the toughest positions to hold in the City of Minneapolis. However, the Mayor, Council Members and many community leaders truly believe that no other person has been more qualified and effective in this position than Director Velma Korbel.

We look forward to continuing our work with Director Korbel to promoting the understanding of civil rights to all.

City Clerk Casey Carl swearing in Director Velma Korbel as the Civil Rights Director for the City of Minneapolis.

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Performance Audits, the Office of Justice Programs, and Cultural Awareness Training – Exciting Initiatives from the PCOC

By Hilary Minor, 2L - Hamline University School of Law
Law Clerk through the MDCR Internship Program under the leadership of Michael K. Browne – Director, Office of Police Conduct Review

I am a second year law student clerking with the Office of Police Conduct Review. I attended this meeting to learn more about how the Police Conduct Oversight Commission operates as a group and to see more of the whole police conduct review process. Here are some of my observations and highlights that I picked up from the meeting.

Police Conduct Oversight Commission

Police Conduct Oversight Commission

The Police Conduct Oversight Commission met on February 11, 2014. Commissioners met and discussed the future of the group’s committees, three cases, and future points for research. They also had the opportunity to speak with Chief Harteau regarding upcoming police trainings. As of now, the Commission has appointed commissioners to the Outreach, Policy, and Rules committees. You can find committee appointments on the commission webpage. There will also be an Advisory Committee which will be called upon by Commission Chair Brown as needed. The Outreach, Policy, and Rules committees will soon be establishing monthly meeting times and those times will be noticed to the public on the Office of Police Conduct Review website. Continue reading

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Public Hearing for Commission on Civil Rights

By Toni Newborn – Interim Assistant Director, Complaint Investigations Division

While the month of December in the city of Minneapolis is typically filled with holiday plans, shopping, and travels, for the Department of Civil Rights, December has been a time of transition and new beginnings. Friday December 13, 2013, marked the last official city council meeting of the year and the council voted to appoint seven Minneapolis residents to serve on the Commission on Civil Rights. The seven new commissioners include:

  • Bernadette Casey (reappointment Ward 13)
  • Adosh Unni (reappointment Ward 2)
  • Liban Abdulkadir ( Ward 9)
  • Iris Altamirano ( (Ward 1)
  • Laura Baldwin (Ward 8)
  • Donald Joseph (Ward 7)
  • Reanne Viken (Ward 1)

These appointments followed a public hearing on December 11, 2013 in which five of the commission candidates expressed to the Public Health, Safety, and Civil Rights committee their desire and interest in serving on the Commission.

After the public hearing, committee members including Council members Barb Johnson (Council President), Don Samuels (Committee Chair), Betsey Hodges (Mayor Elect), Diane Hofstede, and Cam Gordon voiced their admiration and appreciation to the candidates for their willingness to serve on the Commission. Continue reading

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In Her Voice: Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission Chair Andrea Brown States Her Vision

By Michael K. Browne, Director – Office of Police Conduct Review

Andrea Brown, Chair of Oversight Commission addressing Minneapolis City Council 2013

Andrea Brown, Chair of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Police Conduct Oversight Commission met to discuss the business of the committee. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Chair, Ms. Andrea Brown, set aside time specifically to present a statement to the commission. Here is an excerpt from her comments:

“I want to share my vision of the PCOC. I see us doing great things. I believe we can really make an impact. I also know, as we are all learning, we may get side-tracked with outside influences and other exciting and/or interesting events that are outside our purview. It is my job as the chair to ensure that we focus on our objectives laid out in the ordinance. A part of my job is to prioritize agenda items to ensure we are functional and efficient with our time so that at the end of the year, we can look back and see what we have accomplished. Our goal is to have tangible changes focused on policy and training, specifically based off of allegations of police misconduct violating citizens’ civil rights. Our focus is on the entire citizenship of Minneapolis.

A few of the tangibles I see are: having an in-depth study with comparisons to other like cities on coaching – how is it defined? What does it require? Are there standards? What are they? How are they implemented? What improvements can be made to make sure coaching is effective after the officer leaves the office and is out on the street? I see us having a huge impact on the standards of coaching and how it is done, so that it is effective and becomes a staple of the MPD’s protocol.

Besides coaching, I believe there are great opportunities to increase cultural awareness within the MPD. I also see us doing outreach, allowing forums where we go out into the public to hear what certain areas, groups, and citizens of Minneapolis are dealing with, and what concerns they have. I see these forums allowing us to educate the public on what the actual policies are, and dispel any myths.

This process is a step-by-step process. We as a commission are a government agency; we are a city entity. We are to be neutral evaluators. We are not here to move the MPD to one side, nor are we here to move the citizens to one side. We are here to help bridge the gap, and get both sides moving one step closer to trusting and having confidence in one another.”

To view the Agenda for the PCOC Nov. 12, 2013 meeting, please visit the City of Minneapolis website.

Photography by Ryan Patrick

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Oversight Commission Moves Forward: November 2013

By Angela Cotta, 1L – University of St. Thomas Law School,
Mentee through the Mentor/Externship Program to Michael K. Browne – Director, Office of Police Conduct Review

pcoc_11122013On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, the newly formed Police Conduct Oversight Commission continued with expanded training, discussed cases selected at the previous meeting, had a detailed presentation and discussion of 2013 Quarter 3 Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR) data, and chose new cases to review for next month.

After the call to order, the Minneapolis Chief of Police Janeé Harteau briefly addressed the Commission. She expressed her appreciation and gratitude for the commissioners’ work. Additionally, Chief Harteau extended an offer to work with the Commission to answer any future questions. Continue reading

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Say “No” to Redskin

By Velma J. Korbel, Director — Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights

What often happens when people like me decide to express our outrage at what we deem to be an injustice is that we sometimes offend where we attempt to support and defend. I start this opinion with a disclaimer. I hope that any words used here do not further offend or objectify the people for whom I seek to show respect. I do not speak for you. I speak with you.

“Playing Indian” or “Cowboys and Indians” was a widespread game and a common pastime among children in the United States throughout the early to mid-Twentieth Century. Somewhat similarly, white actors with black painted faces used to amuse white audiences during that era. Thankfully, such practices are no longer widely socially acceptable. Continue reading

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