The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its monthly meeting on December 8th, 2015. Highlights of the meeting included a statement from the Commission Chair, a presentation from Commissioner Westphal regarding a Emotionally Disturbed Persons and Mental Health Conference with the Duluth Police Department, a report on the results of the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study and the Policy and Procedure and Outreach Committee reports.
The meeting began with a statement from Commission Chair Brown who discussed current events in police accountability and the PCOC’s consistent desire to work with the community and provide valuable civilian oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department. Chair Brown presented a letter from the Commission to be sent to the Department of Justice National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice who has chosen Minneapolis as one of its pilot sites. The letter details the PCOC’s purpose and desire to work with but independently of the MPD to provide valuable oversight of MPD policies. It also details the important work of the Commission in conducting a total of five Research and Studies on a variety of MPD policy issues including investigatory stops and body camera implementation, with policies recommendations, some of which have already implemented in the MPD. See all the reports here. The letter invites National Initiative representatives to meet and communicate with the PCOC in its work. Chair Brown will present this same letter to Minneapolis City Council tomorrow.
Following this chair report, Commissioner Westphal presented to her fellow Commissioners regarding a conference she had with representatives of the Duluth Police Department regarding their recently implemented program for police interactions with emotionally disturbed persons, a program that has quickly proven quite successful. Commissioner Westphal noted that the Duluth program involves a social worker who accompanies officers on such calls, requires officers responding to wear plain clothes, and includes a partnership with an oversight group including the county mental health department, social workers, doctors and others who review each case of police interaction with emotionally disturbed persons on a monthly basis.
Responding to this presentation, Commissioner Buss moved for the Policy and Procedure Committee to create a framework for a new Research and Study on MPD encounters with mentally ill and emotionally disturbed persons to be completed in the next two months at which time the framework would be presented to the entire Commission who would then decide whether or not to proceed in conducting the Research and Study. The motion passed.
The OPCR’s Ryan Patrick and Kaela McConnon then presented the results of the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study. The study called for analysis of police reports and court records of cases where individuals were cited or arrested for offenses that were categorized in the MPD record keeping system as miscellaneous. The key findings of the study were that the use of such categorization was primarily in response to database limitations and that the use of such categorization has reduced dramatically in the last year. Other finding concerned demographics of individuals involved in the cases including race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the various outcomes of the cases and limitations of the public record keeping systems. Find a copy of the report here. Find the presentation here.
The meeting then moved to Committee Reports. Commissioner Buss noted that the Policy Procedure Committee heard a presentation on the Doesn’t Fit Any Crime Study at its last meeting and discussed its continued work toward a possible Research and Study on police interactions with emotionally disturbed persons. A full Committee Report can be found here. Commissioner Singleton presented the Outreach Committee’s work focusing on Commissioner Westphal’s previously mentioned conference and discussions of Committee support to the community amidst protests at the 4th Precinct. A full Outreach Committee report can be found here.
The Commission then discussed the case summaries requested for this meeting and selected case synopses to be converted to summaries for the January Commission meeting. Those selected cases are case 3, 9, and 10. The case synopses can be found here. The next PCOC meeting with take place on Tuesday January 12th.