The PCOC is pleased to announce that ACLU representatives will be presenting their recently completed publication, Picking Up the Pieces: A Minneapolis Case Study at the regularly scheduled PCOC monthly meeting tomorrow, Tuesday August 11, at 6:00pm in room 241 of City Hall. This study looks at data from January 2012 to September 2014, and analysed low level arrests, finding that Black community members were 8.7 times more likely, and Native American community members 8.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested in low-level arrests. All are encouraged to attend the meeting to hear the presentation, and read the study on this very important issue. The PCOC meeting agenda can be found here.
In the aforementioned study, both the PCOC and OPCR are discussed on pages 36-37. As a point of clarification, please see the information below:
In response to comments regarding the investigatory powers of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, it must be noted that the PCOC is not the investigatory body of the Police Conduct Oversight System and, as such, accountability should not be assessed solely by its actions. The PCOC focuses on policy, while the OPCR and Review Panel make up the investigative and case assessment branch. All three of these branches work together to provide holistic civilian oversight of law enforcement in the city of Minneapolis. For more information on the interconnectedness of the Police Conduct Oversight System, please see a recent blog post.
As to comments on subpoena power, the issue has not arisen in cases. The OPCR, as the investigatory branch, has direct access to all necessary documents created by police including squad recordings, use of force reports, CAPRS, street camera recordings, and squad GPS logs. This is access that the former Civilian Review Authority did not have. The OPCR can also call any officer for an interview and they are required to comply or face significant discipline. The same is true for the PCOC in that they can compel MPD to send representatives to discuss many subjects regarding training and policy in a public forum per ordinance.
In reference to the discussion of disciplinary powers in the Police Conduct Oversight system, state law § 626.89(17) has placed the ability to discipline in the hands of the Chief and stripped the power from civilian review agencies, stating “A civilian review board, commission, or other oversight body shall not have the authority to make a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer or impose discipline on an officer. A civilian review board, commission, or other oversight body may make a recommendation regarding the merits of a complaint, however, the recommendation shall be advisory only and shall not be binding on nor limit the authority of the chief law enforcement officer of any unit of government.” This law is not decided by the City of Minneapolis but the state legislature and would need to be changed by the legislature in order for the Police Conduct Oversight System to gain disciplinary power.
As to timely investigations, they are currently occurring. Because the OPCR has the ability to resolve lower level complaints through alternative processes, including coaching and mediation, the investigators are not burdened by an excessive caseload as they were under the Civilian Review Authority. As such, the average time to resolve a case has dropped significantly amongst civilian investigators, by more than 50% for its highest under the CRA.
In regard to membership in both the PCOC and Review Panel, that membership is quite diverse and all members of both bodies reside in the City of Minneapolis per ordinance. Additionally, the OPCR civilian unit currently staffs three attorneys and two investigators with decades of experience in their fields.
As to public access, there is public access via all the methods suggested in the report. Complainants can file by phone, online or in person at the Department of Civil Rights. Complaints can be filed over the weekend and after business hours online or by beginning an inquiry via 311.
In reference to jurisdiction to investigate broader MPD policies and practices, the PCOC has the jurisdiction to investigate broader MPD policies and practices and is specifically charged to do so by ordinance. Examples of such investigations include Research and Study Reports on Investigatory Stops, Cultural Awareness and Coaching.
Lastly, yearly reports and quarterly reports have been published by the OPCR and contain information beyond simply complaints and dispositions, including allegations and policy violations by precinct, complainant demographics, and investigative timelines. All reports are published online within 14 days of the end of the quarter and the Director of the OPCR presents the quarterly reports to the PCOC and the public at the next meeting following the release of the report.
In conclusion, the PCOC and OPCR thank the ACLU for the work on this insightful and relevant study and look forward to working in partnership on the issue of racial disparity in policing and others.