PCOC Meeting Snapshot: November Edition

dsc_0149The PCOC held its monthly meeting on November 16, 2016. Highlights included opening comments from the Vice Chair, a presentation on a possible protest monitoring project, updates to the online police misconduct portal, Committee updates and case review.

The meeting began with comments from Commission Vice Chair Jennifer Singleton, who noted that is was that one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Jamar Clark. She discussed the importance of this to the Minneapolis community, as well some of the positive changes made in Minneapolis policing since that tragic event. Vice Chair Singleton voiced concern regarding the fact that the administrative review of the Jamar Clark case did not go through the civilian review process at the Office of Police Conduct Review and was instead handled entirely by the police department. She informed the Commission that a new protocol has been established to ensure that future events, specifically “critical incidents”, will always go through the OPCR, allowing for civilian investigation as a part of the process.

Next, OPCR Law Enforcement Analyst Ryan Patrick presented a brief proposal to the Commission on developing a protest monitoring group. Both he and Commission Chair Brown heard about such a group used in Washington D.C. at a presentation at the recent NACOLE conference. The Commission passed a motion to move the project to the Audit Committee to develop a methodology.

Ryan Patrick also updated the Commission on changes made to the online portal for police misconduct data. Since last month, the portal has been updated to include data on open cases, information on complainant preferences for a sworn or civilian investigator, review panel data going back to first panel decision, and disciplinary action broken down by quarter. Mr. Patrick also told Commissioners that the portal has already been accessed more than 4,000 times.

Committee reports followed this update. The Policy and Procedure Committee continues to work on the co-responder pilot program with the MPD and to develop a framework for the Chief’s performance review. Read the Chair Report here. The Outreach Committee continues to work on a Peace Forum and the details of that event have been further solidified. The Commission passed a motion to conduct the Forum on November 29 at the Hook and Ladder Theater from 6:00-8:30pm. Participants in the forum will include members of the PCOC, MPD administration, and community leaders and activists. The goal of the event is to facilitate conversation between police and the community. Vice Chair Jennifer Singleton will represent the Commission at the event.

Commissioners then discussed case summaries 02, 06, and 09 and chose cases to be converted to summaries for the next commission meeting from the November Case Synopses. The cases are: 3, 8 and 10. The Commission then adjourned, with the next monthly meeting scheduled for December 13, 2016.

 

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Hate-motivated speech and actions have no place in Minneapolis

A Message to the Minneapolis Community

By Velma Korbel, Director                                                                                                           Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights

Since the general election, many of us have experienced, witnessed firsthand or heard of actions of: racism, xenophobia, sexism and bigotry directed at people here and in cities across the United States. In no uncertain terms, hate-motivated speech and actions have no place in Minneapolis nor will they be tolerated.  Activities such as these are against the law. No one is above the law.

Minneapolis is committed to human rights and racial equity for anyone who lives, works, and visits our city. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome here. This department echoes Minneapolis mayor, Betsy Hodges’ resolve and commitment when she stated: “I will not compromise the public safety of the people of Minneapolis to satisfy Trump’s desire to put politics before public safety. Minneapolis is being built and strengthened by people from all over the world and I am grateful for their commitment to our city. I stand with them today and will continue to take that stand as the President-elect prepares to take office.”

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights upholds and enforces the city’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws. We also investigate allegations of police misconduct. We are an important resource. If you, your family or someone you know experiences harassment or discrimination based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, LGBT status or other protected classes,  or have been the victim of police misconduct, please contact us at (612) 673-3012 or visit www.minneapolismn.gov/civilrights/.

korbel

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil Rights volunteers celebrate dedication and commitment; making a major impact on community.

commission-allOn Monday October 24, 2016 volunteers from across the Metropolitan area came together at City hall to celebrate the many efforts advancing civil rights in Minneapolis.  Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Executive Director, Velma Korbel, hosted the first Annual Civil Rights Partners Appreciation Celebration as a way to acknowledge the commitment and volunteerism of  community partners.  

The work and continuous efforts of so many volunteers helps the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights achieve its mission to promote and protect equal justice, equal access and equal opportunity for the people of Minneapolis. Civil Rights celebrants are members of three primary groups: the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights, the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, and the MDCR Ambassadors.  Each group contributes greatly the success and reach of the Department.

commission-storyThe Minneapolis Commission on Civil Right (MCCR) promotes and protects the civil rights of Minneapolis residents and workers. It does so by implementing the City’s civil rights ordinance in an advisory capacity to the enterprise through research and study, community education, and outreach and forums.  This year alone, the MCCR participated in 70 plus hours of community outreach. During the summer, commissioners took to the street to inform community members of their rights at various events, including Cinco de Mayo, Twin Cities Pride, Minnesota Juneteenth Festival, Minneapolis Urban League Family Day, and many others.  

The MCCR also used its influence to impact broader civil rights issues. Earlier this year the commission drafted and passed a resolution opposing the Minnesota legislature’s codification of binary-based (male of female only) definitions of biological sex, particularly as it related the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Along with engaging community through outreach, the MCCR has an additional function of enforcement of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances through their adjudicative power to hear case appeals or decide contested discrimination cases.

 

star-trib-articleThe Police Oversight Commission (PCOC) assures that police services are delivered in a lawful and nondiscriminatory manner by shaping police policy, auditing police misconduct cases, engaging the community in discussions of police procedure, and facilitating cultural awareness training for the Minneapolis Police Department. Earlier this year, the PCOC completed a research and study on officer interactions with persons with mental health related issues. That study included a recommendation that the Minneapolis Police Department implement a co-responder pilot program, where a mental health professional would respond with a police officer to calls where mental health issues arise. Since the release of that report and recommendation, the Mayor, in her budget address, proposed funding for three police officers and $200,000 to implement a co-responder pilot program.

More recently, the PCOC directed a study addressing concerns regarding complaint filing. Civil Rights staff members participated as testers and attempted to file complaints at all five precincts in Minneapolis.  The study revealed a variety of challenges for citizens trying to file police misconduct complaints. Since the release of that study, improved complaint filing protocols are being developed in a collaborative effort between the Office of Police Conduct Review, Internal Affairs, and MPD Quality Assurance.  Improvements already being implemented include development of a complaint card to give citizens more information on how to file a complaint, clarification in language on the complaint form, website improvements and an updated complaint filing manual. As a result of this work, the Office of Police Conduct Review was given funding by the Mayor to improve the complaint filing experience and will be exploring ways to use the make the process more accessible for complainants. 

ambassador-programMDCR Ambassadors act as liaisons between their communities and the department. Ambassadors not only educate and inform community members of their rights and opportunities through the department, they also educate the department about community concerns. They help build and improve public trust and transparent lines of communication for all involved. For example, MDCR ambassador Ousman Camara, owner of K’s Dollar and Grocery -a corner store and deli located in North Minneapolis, leverages his connections with loyal customers to raise awareness and help eliminate discrimination. Osuman says, “I proudly display the MDCR brochures on my store counter. I encourage all customers to learn about the resources available, if not for themselves, for someone else.”

Join the group, become a volunteer today. 

Volunteering time with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights as a member of a commission or ambassador offers an excellent opportunity to become actively involved in City government and help shape your community. The Department of Civil Rights encourages residents to share their talents and perspectives. If you are interested in applying to a commission or becoming an ambassador please email Faith Jackson @ faith.jackson@minneapolismn.gov.

 

 

 

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PCOC Meeting Snapshot: October Edition

One of the many dashboards available for public use on the OPCR website

One of the many dashboards available for public use on the OPCR website

The PCOC held its monthly meeting on October 11, 2016. Highlights included a presentation of the OPCR’s new data portal, Committee updates, the Chair’s update from the NACOLE conference and case review.

The meeting began with a presentation from OPCR Director Imani Jafaar and Law Enforcement Analyst Ryan Patrick on the OPCR’s exciting new data portal, providing public access to data on police misconduct, which was unveiled earlier in the day at a news conference. The portal provides two new tools that are posted on the OPCR website and available for public use. The first provides data in seven dashboards, including an interactive map of allegations of police misconduct, demographic information linked to allegations, case processing decisions made by the joint supervisors and disciplinary outcomes. See the tool here. The second tool is a system to search for officer complaint histories. See that tool here. Commissioners showed great enthusiasm for the new tools and are excited to use them in their continued MPD policy work.

This presentation was followed by Committee reports. The first of those reports came from the Outreach Committee, where a community member, Jacque Erickson,  spoke about Peace Forum planning. The presentation was followed by discussion among Commissioners as to how and to what degree the Commission would participate in that forum. Policy and Procedure Chair Singleton, shared with other Commissioners updates on the co-responder pilot project planning, as well as the development of the Chief of Police performance review methodology, to be presented to the full Commission at the next monthly meeting. See the Policy and Procedure Committee Chair Report here. Audit Committee Chair Buss discussed the Audit Committee’s last meeting, where they discussed the data portal presented at this monthly meeting.

Commissioners then discussed cases selected and converted to summaries from the September meeting, cases 05, 08 and 10. They then selected new cases from the October Case Synopses. Cases selected are 2, 6 and 9.

The meeting then adjourned, with the next monthly meeting planned for November 15, as November 8 is election day.

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Local business owner leverages community connections to raise awareness and help eliminate discrimination

K GROCERY.jpegOusman Camara is no stranger to the North Minneapolis Community. In fact he’s a familiar face with a well respected reputation.  Ousman is the owner of K’s Dollar and Grocery, a corner store and deli located in North Minneapolis for over ten years. I recently sat down with Ousman at his North Minneapolis store to discuss his participation in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights  Ambassadors Program.

About Osuman

Ousman is the owner of K’s Dollar and Grocery, a corner store and deli in North Minneapolis. He is an active partner with the Minneapolis Health Department’s Healthy Corner Store Program and Healthy Restaurant Initiative, and is committed to transforming his business into a trusted, locally owned neighborhood outlet for nutritious, affordable food options.  Ousman is cognizant of his store’s inventory and works to increase healthy food options such as fresh fruits and locally grown vegetables.  

Why did you become a Civil Rights Ambassador?

I spend at lot of time conversing  with members of the community. Unfortunately, often times they tell me stories through  which I recognize they are victims of unlawful discrimination. Before, I was vaguely familiar with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, so I would tell people to just reach out to their city council member or the attorney general when they were wronged. I didn’t know there was an organization right here in Minneapolis which was solely committed to investigating complaints of discrimination. Some time ago I met some representatives from the Civil Rights Department at an outreach event. They told me about the Department’s services and its various divisions.  After that, anytime someone came to me with a story hinting of discrimination, I began referring them to the Department of Civil Rights.  Over time, I decided to make it official and become a part of the MDCR Ambassador Program. I received training, and I now feel confident in my ability to speak to the services provided by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and encourage community members to utilize their resources. 

In your capacity as an ambassador, how do you advance or promote the work of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights?

ambassador-program

I raise awareness about the many different areas of civil rights protections included in the  City’s Civil Rights Ordinance.   Most people think that the Civil Rights Department only manages complaints of race discrimination.  A lot of times, I hear stories of housing discrimination and employment discrimination based on religion. People will say to me, “Well I don’t think  it about race, its more about my faith, so I don’t think the Civil Rights staff can help.” Even in 2016, it’s still a major misconception. 

I  also talk to fellow minority small business owners about the benefits of being certified to do business with the City. 

As an ambassador I proudly display the MDCR brochures on  my store counter. I encourage all customers to learn about the resources available, if not for themselves, for someone else. Sometimes people ask me questions that I can’t answer and I tell them to call the Department directly for the best answer. 

The Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance specifies that it is illegal to discriminate based on  race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, marital status, and status with regard to public assistance. As a MDCR ambassador,  what inspires you to promote the message of common humanity  and educate your community of their civil rights protections?

All people are just that- people. It’s a simple fact, but an important one to remember.   We may not look the same, act the same, or worship the same- but we are all human. That common denominator should be enough for us to live together in harmony and treat all people with respect. 

Join Ousman,  become a MDCR Ambassador Today!

MDCR ambassadors are community liaisons, and play a critical role in ensuring the voice of the community is heard. The MDCR Ambassador Program focuses on educating and informing the community of its rights to file complaints of discrimination or police misconduct, become certified minority and women owned businesses and to otherwise engage with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

Current employees of Nonprofit or For-Profit Community Organizations in Minneapolis that support principles of equal opportunity, non-discrimination and the objectives of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance are encouraged to  apply.  To learn more about the Ambassador Program, fill out the contact form below.

 

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please contact the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights at 612-673-2697. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.   Para asistencia 612-673-2700 – Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 – Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

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Office of Police Conduct Review Provides New Data Portal Allowing for Public Access to Police Misconduct Data

Office of Police Conduct Review Provides New Data Portal Allowing for Public Access to Police Misconduct Data

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On October 11th  two new tools went live on the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights website and both are fully accessible to the public. The first of those tools allows anyone to review public data, maintained by the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR) on police misconduct and investigation. It contains data from 2013 to the present and updates every two weeks. The data is displayed in seven dashboards, including an interactive map of allegations of police misconduct, demographic information linked to allegations, case processing decisions made by the joint supervisors and disciplinary outcomes. All this data is interactive, allowing a user to drill down to more specific data based on any available data point. For instance, a user could look at complaints by precinct, or map a specific type of allegation.
View the  tool here: www.minneapolismn.gov/civilrights/policereview/archive/index.htm.

The second tool is a system to search for officer complaint histories. Such histories are the most frequent requests received by the Office of Police Conduct Review.  Now, using the tool, anyone may look up any officer and locate records from OPCR, MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit, and the former Civilian Review Authority. The tool provides as much information about the complaint history of an officer as is allowed under the Minnesota Data Practices Act. Such information includes the listing of every complainant, whether the case is opened or closed, whether there was final discipline, and the discipline imposed. View the tool here: www.minneapolismn.gov/civilrights/policereview/cra_links-contacts.

The creation of these tools marks the first time ever that such information has been made available to the public, on demand. With the release of the tool, Mayor Betsy Hodges stated the City is “leading the way nationally in such transparency” Council Member Cam Gordon offered the tool “will help build and enhance accountability, transparency and trust in our communities.”  The Office of Police Conduct Review is happy to be contributing to these goals that are such a vital part of the mission and work of  Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

The release of this Data Portal, has already garnered much media attention, with stories including:

We would like to thank its partners, the data scientists in the City’s Information Technology Department and the Minneapolis Police Department. We encourage  all to interact with these newly released tools.

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New Sick and Safe Time Ordinance provides support for victims of domestic violence and their family members

dmam

New Sick and Safe Time Ordinance takes effect on July 1, 2017- Provides support and protection for victims of domestic violence and their family members.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month of recognition evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nations who were working to end violence against women and their children. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has passed every year since and each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This month is an important reminder for people across the country to focus on preventing and ending domestic violence in their communities. According to the National Resource on Domestic Violence:

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 in the U.S. will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. 
  • 1 in 3 teens has experienced some form of abuse in a dating relationship, and nearly half of college women report experiencing a violent or abusive dating relationship. 
  • Domestic violence and dating abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation or religion.

On May 31, 2016, Mayor Betsy Hodges signed the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance and Minneapolis became the first city in Minnesota to require that certain employers provide paid sick leave to covered employees.  Under this Ordinance, starting July 1, 2017, employers must allow employees to accrue up to 48 hours of sick and safe time each year. Employers with six or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time, while smaller employers must at least provide unpaid leave. Employees may use sick and safe time for their own health and certain family members.  

The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is a major step forward on providing support for victims of domestic violence.  The Ordinance assists victims of domestic violence and their family members by providing them with job protected paid time away from work to allow them to receive treatment and services, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their protection. Research demonstrates victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking with no paid sick leave are less able to receive medical treatment, participate in legal proceedings and obtain other necessary services. In addition, without paid sick leave, domestic violence victims are less able to maintain the financial independence necessary to leave abusive situations, achieve safety, and minimize physical and emotional injuries. The Ordinance provisions take effect on July 1, 2017. 

While the existence of domestic abuse is never desired, it is reassuring to know that new legislation provides support for victims as they recover. This  month, and throughout the year, it’s important for all of us to get involved, raise awareness and speak out in support of victims and survivors. Chances are, even if you have not experienced abuse in your own relationships, someone you know has.

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Helpful Resources

Learn More about the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

View the Presidential Proclamation — National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2016

Visit the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence Website

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