E-DEMOCRACY | The CRA restructuring proposal: an arational response


From: Chuck Turchick Date: Sep 17 23:10 UTC

I’d have no problem if the City Council’s Public Safety Committee disagreed with me on the CRA restructuring proposal. There is always room for rational disagreement. Why, sometimes I even disagree with myself.

Even if committee members put forward irrational arguments, I could understand. This is a highly emotional issue, and none of us argue rationally about it all of the time.

But neither rational nor irrational disagreement is what has happened so far. Rather, the committee has been arational or non-rational in dealing with this issue. That can be scary.

I say this because in deciding whether to vote for a proposal to merge the Civilian Review Authority with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, there are certain obvious questions that should be asked — none of which has been asked so far:

1. When the CRA restructuring proposal’s main sponsor, Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel, tells the committee that the only way to change the police culture is to involve officers in the investigation of complaints alleging officer misconduct, wouldn’t it be reasonable to ask what her evidence is for that assertion? Are there any recognized experts on changing police culture that agree or disagree with her? What do they say?

2. Shouldn’t someone ask if hearing panels comprised both of officers and civilians — let alone panels comprised of two of each — have been tried anywhere else? And if so, with what results?

3. According to Ms. Korbel, the proposal was developed primarily by Lt. Travis Glampe, the head of Internal Affairs, and former Assistant Civil Rights Director Lee Reid. She called them her two “subject matter experts” on civilian oversight. But there is strong evidence that one of these two architects of the proposal, Lee Reid, does not in fact even support it — in particular, that he does not support its two most radical provisions of involving officers both in the investigations and on the hearing panels in CRA cases. Shouldn’t someone ask Mr. Reid what he thinks of the proposal he supposedly authored?

4. There being two CRA investigators and six IAU investigators, the merger would mean that 75% of the cases filed with the CRA would now be investigated by police officers. Might it be relevant how citizen complaints previously filed with the IAU were investigated and treated? Communities United Against Police Brutality reports that pursuant to a Data Practices request, it determined that of 994 citizen complaints filed with the IAU between 1996 and 2006, two were sustained. No one has disputed these figures. Shouldn’t someone ask the MPD whether these are accurate, and if not, what are the statistics?

5. One problem the proposal claims to address is that of delays in CRA cases. What is causing the delays? Are CRA cases and IAU cases similarly investigated? Are there differences in the investigators’ caseloads? If so, wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense to transfer an investigator instead of turning a whole agency upside down and inside out?

6. Should it be relevant that at the three community meetings to take feedback from the public, every single person spoke against this proposal, and at the City Council hearing, one person out of about 15 speakers favored the proposal? Is this the kind of issue that the sense of the community should be overridden?

I may be mistaken. Maybe these are all irrelevant questions. But even if that is the case, I would appreciate it greatly if a City Council member who might see this list would explain to me why any one of these questions is not relevant to the decision the Council will be making this Friday.

I apologize if this posting violates any rules of civility.

Chuck Turchick Phillips

From: Lucia Wilkes Smith Date: Sep 20 05:48 UTC

Was it 20 years ago that I worked (seemingly endlessly) with the Coalition for Police Accountability to develop and promote the Civilian Review Authority? We were Black, Native, white, community agitators, peace activists, educators, lawyers, students. We were determined to create an innovative and truly fair system that would respect and act honestly upon civilian complaints. We dealt with cop wannabes. We were frustrated in our efforts to bring significant response to citizen complaints. Those of us who were most savvy and most realistic began to quietly drift away or noisily stomp away from our meetings. Some of us stayed, hoping to bring reforms, hoping to establish a review authority actually based upon independent professional investigation, civilian board review of findings, and recommendations for discipline forwarded to the Chief of Police. For years after the CRA was implemented, many of us monitored the board meetings. The flaw was that the Chief of Police always was free to disregard even the most clearly sustained of recommendations.

Ultimately, the CRA has been a hollow effort — an empty promise to residents of our community that says their complaints of unprofessional police behavior and/or abuse will be addressed. I regret that so many good people have devoted enormous lengths of time and sincere effort to an exercise in futility. I feel disheartened to know that people in our community have filed complaints that came to nothing. CRA was a high ideal that could not be brought to fruition.

From: Janet Nye Date: 01:38 UTC

Isn’t it sad, and frightening, to think that there has been so much effort put in on one side of the issue, and a real concerted effort to prevent police accountability from happening on the other?. Thank you so much for showing that this is a historical problem coming from the police department, not from the inadequacy of the people and their efforts to create a more just and safe city.

This latest unsolicited attempt to redo the CRA has been filled with secrecy, deception, and total disregard for the public and the ideas they have to offer. Frankly, many of the people deeply involved in working on the problem of police accountability would not have asked for this revamp, but only to bring Police Chief Dolan into line with his mandated role, outlined in the CRA Charter, to discipline officers as requested by  the CRA. This discipline would occur only after a case has been investigated by professional investigators and determined to have merit by a panel of three board members.

To flesh out the contention that Dolan does not discipline, here is what happened in 2009 according to the CRA annual report:

There were 468 complaints, of which only 141 (30%) were taken forward to the next level. Of those, 114 were signed and moved onward. Out of those, a total of 35 officers were recommended for disciplinary action by the CRA. Only three of these cases, involving five officers, resulted in any kind of disciplinary action. That discipline consisted of a letter of reprimand or an oral reprimand.

I find that shocking.

Janet Nye Phillips

From: andrea schaerf Date: 03:32 UTC

Does anyone know about the numbers or amounts of civil suites settled against them?

See thread here.

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