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TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSEEING POLICE BEHAVIOR/MISCONDUCT AND RESULTING DISCIPLINE?
Practices within the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the other community safety departments as well as any changes to policing and public safety in the city should be transparent and those carrying out policies should be accountable.
Transparency means that the development and implementation of policies and procedures, data and information, and decision-making are open to the public. Transparency may also include policies that require police officers to provide their name, badge number, and information about how to report complaints to people with whom they interact. It might include other practices as well such as wearing body cameras with adequate privacy protections for the public and strengthening the right of civilians to record police interactions.
Accountability refers to the processes, norms, and structures that hold public officials and public employees including police officers legally responsible for their actions and that impose sanctions if they violate the law and agreed upon procedures. The mechanisms for holding law enforcement and public officials accountable can be community based, political, civil or criminal.
Responsible Entities for Transparency and Accountability
There are multiple bodies and entities that have been created to address police misconduct and provide accountability to the community. See police oversight for more information.
- The Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR) consists of two civilians in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights and two sworn officers in the MPD. They are charged with receiving, reviewing and investigating complaints of alleged police misconduct
- The Police Conduct Review Panel (PCRP) consists of civilian appointees and MPD supervisors. The Panel reviews the OPCR investigation reports and passes them and its recommendations along to the chief of police.
The OPCR/PCRP cannot impose disciplinary measures on officers based on the results of their investigations. This is due to a MN state law passed in 2012. The statute prohibits civilian review boards in the State of Minnesota “from making a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer.” Decisions on discipline can only be made by the chief of police. Their case findings are posted here.
- The Police Conduct Oversight Commission (PCOC) is an independent panel of nine residents appointed by the mayor and city council to assure police services are delivered in a lawful and nondiscriminatory manner.
Frustration within the PCOC over internal city politics and the lack of support and information from the MPD, has resulted in resignations. Because it doesn’t have enough members to constitute a quorum and the mayor and city council have declined to appoint any new members, the PCOC has not met since May 2022 and probably will not be meeting again this year.
- POST Board
The Minnesota Peace Officer Training Board, or POST Board, establishes law enforcement licensing and training requirements and sets standards for law enforcement agencies and officers throughout the state. The POST Board recently (2020) established an advisory body with a goal to hold peace officers accountable for harm that the profession has caused within the communities by reviewing and analyzing data being collected statewide and providing policy recommendations to the POST Board. Learn more here.
The POST Board is in the process of changing the model requirements for all officers for licensing. If the new model (behavior) requirements are adopted and the state passes legislation giving the POST Board the ability to revoke the license of officers who violate this behavior, enforcement would move out of the hands of individual police departments and chiefs and to a uniform state board. This would require legislation at the state level.
- Minneapolis Police Department (MPD)
The MPD has made several changes in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to eliminate, track and discipline misconduct. They are also working to change the culture through training and recruiting a new generation of police. Work is underway to make substantive changes to the police contract that will build in accountability. These changes are important and necessary, but many believe that the police policing themselves will never be the solution.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) investigation of the MPD found no meaningful independent review process for assessing police officers’ conduct, because the OPCR is not sufficiently independent from MPD.
Mayor Frey’s Community Safety Work Group report, in the “Strengthen MPD’s Disciplinary and Accountability Systems” section, recommended the city either revamp the PCOC or develop a new oversight body. The report also recommended additional resources be allocated to bolster OPCR.
Council President Andrea Jenkins has started the formal procedure to evaluate and revamp the PCOC, POCR and PCRP.
It remains to be seen whether any of the current bodies can have a significant impact until the consent decree is finalized, monitoring procedures established, and new POST Board legislation passed.