By Samuel Lee Reid II, Assistant Director — Civilian Review Authority
Over the past few years, citizens have asked us several good questions about a large range of things: retaliation, obtaining CRA statistical information, board membership, and filing complaints and lawsuits against police officers. Below we’ve answered some of the most popular questions we hear from complainants (and even people calling from across the country) who want to know more about the CRA.
Can I file anonymously, or unofficially?
The short answer is no: some information is required to be public, and we can’t take issues you want to “bring to someone’s attention.” We have a formal complaint process and you can find out more information on the official CRA website.
However, an inquiry does not become an actual complaint until the allegations have been reduced to writing and signed by the person filing the complaint, so you are free to speak with an investigator. Once the investigator writes the complaint up, mails it to you, and you mail it back with your signature, the CRA can take official action to resolve your concern.
Will the police retaliate against me for filing a complaint?
Fear of retaliation is sometimes cited as a reason for not filing a complaint against an officer who is believed to have engaged in misconduct; actually, retaliation is a rare occurrence. In fact, over the CRA 20-year history, only two people have reported that an officer took action against them that appeared to be in retaliation for them having filed complaints against the officers.
The reality is that the fear of retaliation works to the benefit of those officers who engage in misconduct because their actions are not brought to the attention of the CRA or the Minneapolis department.
How Many? How Much? Who?
People from around the country have called wanting more information about statistics of our unit and cases. How many complaints were filed with the CRA last summer? What sort of trends do you see? How often does the police chief discipline officers, and for what sorts of misconduct?
The CRA statistics can be found on the CRA website under reports which has this information, and much more. Recent and past reports are available at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/civilrights/cra/cra_members-reports.
Quarterly Reports and Annual Reports (2006-2009) are also available. The CRA additionally provides monthly statistical reports to the public during CRA Board meetings, which are held in City Hall, room 241, on the first Wednesday of every month. Find minutes, directions, and more details at the CRA Board website.
Am I free to get an attorney even though I’ve filed with CRA?
Yes. The CRA does not offer legal advice and doesn’t engage directly in the court’s processes. We are separate from any sort of legal proceedings (which includes the impound lot, traffic tickets, etc.) you may choose to pursue and the CRA process does not provide any reimbursements for property damage done by the Minneapolis police. The CRA is here to address the officer’s behavior as an administrative matter, which has the potential for behavior modification through discipline, coaching and training.
Note: If you have an attorney, please have him or her send us a letter of representation and we will make sure to copy your attorney on whatever information we mail to you.
Would I make a good CRA board member?
If you’re at all interested in thinking independently and drawing conclusions from applying policies to fact patterns, and you live in Minneapolis, the answer is yes! The CRA Board seeks individuals who are dedicated to fairness and objectivity, and have the energy to ensure that the CRA mission is achieved by demonstrating an active interest in solving the challenges that face the CRA.
You must be able to commit to attending training, monthly meetings, and CRA Board hearings. Please contact us at CRA@minneapolismn.gov for more information, or check out our previous post about the CRA Board to get official information from the City Clerk’s office about what the appointment entails.
Have more questions? Please feel free to let us know! You can contact us at our office:
Civilian Review Authority
350 S. 5th Street, Room 239
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phone: (612) 673-5500
Fax: (612) 673-5510