FREE SPEECH ZONE | Civilian oversight of police and attempts at satire

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Oh, the perils of attempting to be satirical.
 
Twenty-two months ago I posted a letter I had sent to the Minneapolis City Council, asking them why they kept apppointing incompetent or delusional people to the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) board. I had written that the board members must have been one or the other because 1) they kept sustaining citizen complaints alleging police misconduct, but the Chief of Police regularly disagreed with their findings; and 2) they seemed to think the Chief would discipline officers against whom they sustained complaints. Incompetent or delusional, maybe both.
 
I thought my letter was satire. Apparently, the City Council did not agree.
 
Last September, the CRA was replaced by the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR), which has two separate citizen boards. One is the Police Conduct Review Panel, from which two citizens are selected to make recommendations, along with two police officers, on each complaint. The other is the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, which will do outreach for the OPCR and make policy recommendations to the Minneapolis Police Department. Although the existing CRA board was immediately disbanded in September, so far only three people have been appointed to the seven-member Review Panel, and none have been appointed to the Oversight Commission.
 
But among the applicants to the Review Panel were four people who were serving on the CRA board at the time it was terminated. These were four people whom I had described as “incompetent or delusional” to the City Council in my attempt at satire.
 
And lo and behold, three of those four people, previously deemed qualified by the City Council to hear citizen complaints against police officers and make findings of fact and determinations, were now not qualified for the new Police Conduct Review Panel that would hear and make recommendations on new such citizen complaints. (Admittedly, one of the four did get his application in late for the first round of appointments, but the others were well within the prescribed time limit.)
 
I can only assume the City Council took seriously my “claim” that these people were incompetent. It is true that the requirements for the new Review Panel include what had been described as “a set of higher analytical skills,” but was that an admission that incompetent people had been appointed in the past? Even though no one other than the Chief of Police had ever claimed the CRA had sustained a complaint when it shouldn’t have been sustained, the City Council, in its appointments to the new Review Panel seems to have bought that argument.
 
By its own actions, the City Council is admitting it had been appointing incompetent people to the CRA board. Seemingly, for years.
 
Oh, the perils of attempting to be satirical.
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