First on the agenda was a presentation by Sergeant David Garman regarding the Crisis Intervention Team, a special subset of the Minneapolis Police Department handling individuals in mental health crisis. Commission members have taken a particular interest in how individuals with mental health issues are handled by the Minneapolis Police Department, and in particular the training given to officers surrounding such issues. Sergeant Garman described significant steps MPD is taking to improve police contact with individuals with mental health issues, and he indicated there is more still to be done. One community member later commended Sergeant Garman for deciding to attend the remainder of the Commission meeting after his presentation, in what the community member interpreted to be a positive gesture.
Next on the agenda was the 2014 second quarter report for the Office of Police Conduct Review, reported by the OPCR Director Michael K. Browne. Director Browne indicated that while most numbers have stayed consistent from quarter to quarter, four of the five precincts and the Special Operations Division are now meeting coaching deadlines. The remaining precinct improved its response time to coaching assignments in Q2-2014. Director Brown also noted that Chief Janeé Harteau took action on several cases that reached her desk after a no merit determination by the Police Conduct Review Panel, mandating special training for officers involved in a complaint.
After the 2014 second quarter report, the Commission took up the Police Conduct Oversight Commission Strategic Plan. The plan lays out the Objectives and Mission of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission including:
“To be the citizen advisory group responsible for auditing, outreach and policy review of police conduct in Minneapolis and to be a credible public body that becomes the place community members take their concerns of police/community interactions and police turn to for credible feedback.”
The Plan goes on to create six month, twelve month, and twenty-four month goals for the Commission, including developing and implementing cultural awareness training for the MPD, scheduling Commission community listening sessions at regular intervals, and conducting research on use of force and video /body cameras. The Commission noted that it has already made significant progress on many of its six month goals. After a brief discussion and a minor amendment, the Commission formally adopted the Strategic Plan.
A recurrent theme throughout the Commission meeting was the significant number of cases that are referred to coaching process. Although the coaching process does not result in discipline of the officer, coaching accomplishes a great deal. Coaching involves a direct supervisor and an officer involved in a complaint formally meeting to discuss what occurred during an incident. The process also allows a direct supervisor to discuss with the officer involved polices and expectations for performance and to provide training in how to handle the situation differently, with the goal of long term behavioral changes in the Minneapolis Police Department. Thus, the OPCR coaching process addresses problematic behaviors and influences positive change.
Candace M. Groth
Intake Investigator & Special Projects
Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR)
The writer is a recent graduate of Hamline University School of Law (May 2014) and a new Intake Investigator for the OPCR.