Last winter there was quite a hullabaloo when Dave Bicking was not reappointed to the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority Board (CRA) and Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan was reappointed to his position on an 8-5 vote by the City Council.
Now, a year later things have died down, the CRA plods on, and absolutely nothing has changed. It is still a rare occurrence when Chief Dolan disciplines an officer as a result of an allegation of misconduct being sustained by the CRA. The Mayor, the City Council, the City Attorney, the Police Chief, and the CRA Board itself have all helped create a culture of impunity within the Minneapolis Police Department.
After last Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the CRA Board, I sent this email to the Mayor of Minneapolis and the members of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee of the City Council.
Dear Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health Committee Members and Mayor Rybak:
The following is a slightly expanded version of a comment I made during the “Public Comment” period of the Civilian Review Authority Board meeting tonight:
Several decades ago there was a non-profit agency called the Citizens’ Re-training Academy. Its purpose was to train and find job placements for middle-aged people who were having difficulty finding work. The Re-training Academy’s results were not very good at all. One day an individual who had been through its year-long program — the agency had 6-month, 12-month, and 18-month programs — and never found employment made a complaint to the State. The State funds provided to the Re-training Academy were a substantial chunk of its budget.
The State asked the Academy for data on how many people had been placed in jobs as a result of its program. The Academy told the State that the last year-long class had 52 people, of which six had found employment. The State responded that it realized many people may have started the course, but it wanted to know of those who had successfully completed it, how many had been placed in jobs. The Academy replied that the 52 figure was those who had successfully completed the program.
Eventually, the State informed the Re-training Academy that in order to continue receiving the State funds, the agency would have to inform each prospective enrollee what the specific statistical likelihood was that they would find employment as a result of the program. The Academy informed the State that under those circumstances, no one would enroll in the program. It also argued that the hiring decisions were not in their hands. That was up to the employers; market forces were in play. The State held firm and told the Academy that this was only fair to people who might invest considerable time in the program. It said the Academy simply wasn’t doing what it was leading the public to believe it was doing.
As you might have guessed, the Citizens Re-training Academy was known as the CRA. And the six job placements of 52 who had successfully completed the most recent program corresponds to the six instances of discipline in the last 52 CRA-sustained allegations of misconduct, as reported in your recently released “Participation in Performance Review of Chief Dolan.”
So I suggest you notify the City Council and the Mayor that beginning on such and such a date, you will be informing every prospective complainant what the specific statistical likelihood is of the officer being disciplined if their case goes to a hearing and a CRA panel sustains the allegation of misconduct.
There are three reasons for doing this:
1. It’s only fair to the prospective complainant, who will be investing a considerable amount of time and energy in the process.
2. The number of CRA complaints will likely go down, enabling you to make a dent in the backlog of investigations.
3. Maybe the City Council and Mayor will get off their asses and do something about this situation, which goes on year after year after year.