Newspaper article

Skepticism Greets Proposed Minneapolis Plan for Handling Complaints against Police

Newspaper article

Skepticism Greets Proposed Minneapolis Plan for Handling Complaints against Police

Article excerpt

A new process proposed for hearing complaints filed against Minneapolis Officers drew a lot of questions Wednesday from members of a City Council committee.

Currently, complaints against officers may be taken to the Department of Civil Rights, which has two civilian investigators, or to the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit, which has six sworn officers on staff to investigate complaints.

"There is a lack of understanding about who is responsible for discipline," said Velma Korbel, the city's director of civil rights, who added that the current system was "not meeting our needs."

Under the new system, all complaints would be filed with the new Office of Police Conduct Review, which would replace the current Civilian Police Review Authority.

The new office would combine civilian and sworn investigators who would review the complaints and assign them for investigation or mediation or send them to another agency.

Those filing complaints would have no say in who might eventually investigate the allegations. Now, a complainant can choose either of the two groups to investigate.

Removing the ability to choose drew criticism from members of the Public Safety, Health and Civil Rights Committee.

"If I have a complaint against you, it's awfully hard to ask you to investigate you," said Council Member Meg Tuthill, adding, "I'm wide open to any suggestions."

"The bottom line is there are only two investigators in the Civil Rights Department," said Korbel, who said her investigators are still working on cases filed in 2009.

"It may well be that someone coming in with a complaint might prefer a civilian doing the investigating rather than a police officer," said Council Member Betsy Hodges. "The fact that they have a complaint against the Police Department shows some distrust."

"The civilian will not have a choice," said Lee Reid, deputy director of the Civil Rights Department. …

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