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
On Wednesday, September 11, 2013, a sub-committee of the Minneapolis City Council – the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee – held a public hearing to review four candidates for the Police Conduct Review Panel and seven candidates for the Police Conduct Oversight Commission.
Michael K. Browne, the Director of the Office of Police Conduct Review, introduced the candidates to the Committee. Director Browne also described the functions and significance of the Commission and Panel as well as the rigorous selection process for appointees. While introducing the group, Director Browne explained:
The new Commissioners represent a unique swath of the Minneapolis citizenry. They come from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, yet share a passion for the betterment of our City and its police force. From our selection process, we learned that this drive doesn’t come from a place of negativity, of distrust, but from a genuine desire to improve lives in Minneapolis. While they offer new perspectives, we have a distinguished returning CRA board member who can provide insight into the long term functioning of citizen oversight of law enforcement.
The Commissioners are in a unique position; it is their sole mission to bring life to the auditing, outreach, and big picture goals contained in the ordinance. Never before have we charged a citizen oversight commission with this as a sole function, with goals clearly defined in the Police Conduct Oversight Ordinance.
These diverse perspectives, these individuals, will have the opportunity to focus not on individual complaints, but on real organizational change – measurable and long term sustainable change. While the array of complaints received by the office will influence and shape their activities, they will not be bogged down by the necessity of a case by case analysis, so they can see the big picture. – Mike Genneco, head of the Office of Independent Review in the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department, recognized this necessity when he said, “to change behavior effectively, an oversight body must look beyond the particular cases of misconduct to systemic issues implicating policy and training.” Our Commission must use the plethora of information accessible to them via the Office of Police Conduct Review to “identify ambiguities in policy, laxity in enforcement, and deficiencies in training.” Whenever these policies and practices can be reformed, it will directly benefit the people of Minneapolis.
After Director Browne presented, the potential appointees each spoke about their interest in civilian oversight of law enforcement. There were 18 applicants for the Panel. Of those 18, four were recommended for approval by the Committee. Of the 20 applicants for the Commission, seven were recommended for approval. The Committee approved six of the recommended appointees and voted to replace one candidate with another applicant who spoke during public comment.
The Panel and Commission applicants will be a topic of discussion by the full City Council on Friday, September 20, 2013 for final approval. More information is available at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings
Photography by Ryan Patrick