Evaluating for a better Minneapolis police chief


The Star Tribune is seriously misleading people when they credit Chief Dolan with the drop in crime rate.

“With little doubt, the key accomplishment of Dolan’s years has been the steady drop in the crime rate.”

Overall societal trends mean falling crime rates all across the US in every area . Many people debate the causes for crime, but there is a consensus that police chief is not even mostly responsible. In fact, if you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it INCREASED.

What would be better measures of a police chiefs performance?

  1. Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.
  2. Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.
  3. Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.
  4. Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.

Looking in more detail:

1) Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.

If you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide arrests from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it to be basically the same. On this measure, Minneapolis police performance has not changed.

The calculations, based on MN BCA 2005 and 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: OK

2) Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.

A high clearance rate is good, that means crimes are being solved. Minneapolis has gone down in clearance rates (from 29% to 23%) while the state has improved in clearance rates (46% to 48%). One would actually expect higher clearance rates because the science behind solving crimes is getting better.

Perhaps if we compared Minneapolis to other big cities, Minneapolis would fare better. So let’s compare uniform crime reporting by Minneapolis to the FBI federal reporting for cities over 250,000, for the year 2010.  For murders, Minneapolis reports a 64% clearance rate which is better than a 61% comparable national average. For rapes, Minneapolis reports a 37% clearance rate which is less than a 41% comparable national average. For robbery, Minneapolis reports a 20% clearance rate which is less than a 25% comparable national average. For property crime, Minneapolis reports a 70% clearance rate which way exceeds a 14% comparable national average (maybe “stolen property” and “property crime” are not really comparable). For violent crime as a category, Minneapolis reports a 18% clearance rate which is sadly much less than a 45% comparable national average. Overall, Minneapolis still looks poorer than an average big city.

Selected data from the FBI uniform crime reports:

Selected data from theMN BCA 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: Poorer than Average Big Cities and the State

3) Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.

A high rating in this category is bad. The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project ranks Minneapolis as fourth in misconduct rates for police agencies of a similar size in 2010. Minneapolis is even the ranked higher than the notorious Oakland who almost killed a protestor with its misuse of force. One might argue the details, like maybe the incidents are really not that bad. So here is the listing of what the project collected in just 2010.

Report published in National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project :

1. Minneapolis MN police chief accused of only disciplining 5 of 37 officers guilty of misconduct, & then only w/reprimands: http://is.gd/5SaLl
2. Minneapolis MN PD fires yet another ex-cop community relations consultant after finding this one had felony record: http://is.gd/a0C1b
3. Minneapolis MN police chief criticized for only disciplining 6 of 11 cops w/sustained findings of misconduct [1] http://is.gd/hny9D
4. Minneapolis MN cop shoots dog in fenced yard next to suspect’s home, witnesses say dog wasn’t barking or threatening him: http://is.gd/9iIbg
5. Minneapolis MN police sgt wrongfully threatens to arrest ccw permit holder after disarming & pointing gun at him 3]6. Minneapolis MN police accused of arresting gun rights activist in retaliation for complaint over month-old incident [3 http://is.gd/isr1s
7. Minneapolis MN controversial cop recently rehired is indicted on federal civil rights charges for kicking teen in head: http://is.gd/e0Z9k
8. Minneapolis MN police SRO cop charged w/4 counts criminal sexual conduct involving 2 girls age 12 & one since age 5 [1] http://is.gd/eSmau
9. Minneapolis MN police lieutenant faces theft charges for withdrawing $1500 from women’s police org for a personal cruise: http://is.gd/bEfdX
10. Minneapolis MN cop w/history of misconduct fired again for lying about alleged brutality on now-disbanded task force [3] http://is.gd/fnVaN
11. Minneapolis MN police school resource officer under investigation for use of force while breaking up teen girl fights: http://is.gd/bEnWJ
12. Minneapolis MN police must reveal more info on complaints against cops due to court ruling in appeal filed by CUAPB: http://is.gd/cqgaU
13. Minneapolis MN loses civil suit in $1.8mil federal jury award to family of unarmed man shot to death by 2 cops 3]14. 2 Minneapolis MN cops subject of suit after security cam catches them performing body cavity search at roadside [3 http://is.gd/g43NN
15. Minneapolis, St Paul, & Ramsey County MN sued by “Democracy Now” host and two producers over their arrests at 2008 RNC: http://is.gd/bVw9p
16. Minneapolis MN cop sued by woman claiming she was wrongfully tackled & arrested while cop worked security at apt bldg: http://is.gd/9CdE5
17. 2 Minneapolis MN cops sued by man kicked at videotaped traffic stop a month after he reported brutality he witnessed: http://is.gd/aTLem
18. Minneapolis MN dashcam video shows cops beat and taser man after lying about stopping him for broken tail light: http://is.gd/9USuJ
19. Minneapolis MN cop pleads to robbery charges in Dakota Co, already sentenced for bank robbery & Hennepin Co robberies [0] http://is.gd/fZeBR
20. Minneapolis MN police chief rehires cop he fired for his role in FBI probed Strike Force scandal, gives him 7mo back pay: http://is.gd/bA2Kp
21. Minneapolis MN cop who fataly shot teen in high-profile 2006 case ordered rehired by arbitrator after fired on DV charge: http://is.gd/c4Z5i
22. Minneapolis MN police SWAT team officer sentenced to 8 years for armed bank robbery, case pending for 12 other robberies: http://is.gd/dYWyf
23. Minneapolis MN cop sentenced to 10yrs for armed robberies, to serve concurrently w/8yr fed sentence for bank robbery 0]24. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $80k to cop claiming he was removed from Metro Gang Task Force for reporting abuses [0 http://is.gd/j2134
25. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $165k to 7 “zombies” who were arrested & jailed for 2 days w/o charge during protest [1] http://is.gd/eDeQn
26. Minneapolis MN police settle suit for $235k to man punched, kicked, and tasered by 6 cops on dashcam video: http://is.gd/ctI1E
27. Minneapolis MN police settle brutality suit for $125k to man stomped on and tasered on video after he gave up when shot: http://is.gd/8gkOR
28. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $75k to man shown on dashcam video being tasered in neck while cooperating with police: http://is.gd/ahLaN
29. Minneapolis MN police to settle wrongful arrest lawsuit over 2007 arrest of critical mass cyclist for $70k: http://is.gd/657dG
30. Minneapolis MN council committee may recommend against city paying for defense of cop in videotaped taser abuse lawsuit: http://is.gd/b5EFK

Grade: Horrible, only three cities of the same type are worst.

4) Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.

“We have more cops than bad people” is what you hear on the police video during the arrests at the latest Occupy protest. And what did these people do to become “bad” people? They walked illegally in the street. How many of us have walked illegally in the streets of Minneapolis? Are we all “bad” people?

Derryl Jenkins ended up beaten and bloodied after a traffic stop in North Minneapolis almost two years ago, when he peaceably complied with officers. Luckily it was captured by the dash video cam. The City of Minneapolis paid $235,000 in a settlement. Yet what was clear to the public was not so clear to Lt Mike Sauro, 4th Precinct, who still said :

“As a supervisor at the 4th Pct. I am writing this in response to the request that supervisors discuss use of force with officers under their command, I will start this discussion by telling you that I have worked for the MPD for thirty five years and have attended many, many training sessions on force and been involved in many, many use of force incidents…If the suspect does not produce his drivers license when requested he than dictates that force be used, not the officer….In ending I will repeat that the Jenkins’s arrest incident is a classic applied use of force by highly trained professional police officers”

No one has kept score on the numbers or amounts of civil lawsuits, which is too bad. For if we kept score, then maybe we would have more cause to change the Minneapolis police force. Under Tim Dolan, Minneapolis has paid 1.8 million dollars in lawsuits in just a couple of years.

Legendarily, this police force has beaten up the victim (not the attacker) who called for help.

Grade: Horrible, the police consider us all to be bad people.

The Solution

The solution is more than a good police chief, although a good police chief is key. The next police chief should be local. If the police chief’s teenage son could possibly be the person beaten up, then I think policies will change. The next police chief should embody community policing and enforce it in every way. More importantly, I think the public, the Mayor and the city council have to be united in call for change.

Here are some changes that need to happen beyond the police chief:

  1. The chief, the mayor and the entire city council needs to testify to get rid of arbitration. The chief should be able to fire cops who kill unarmed people and other violations of the use of force. Once this law changes, multiple people need to be fired.
  2. The civil lawsuits should come out of the same budget line as the police salaries.
  3. Every Minneapolis police officer needs to re-trained in the safe use of force.

As a last resort, we should all consider disbanding the Minneapolis police force and starting a new organization with a different name with entirely new hires to do policing for Minneapolis. Serious consideration of this option, with the passing of appropriate laws to enable it, may force the Minneapolis police force to actually change.

The real question is – does this matter enough to you to make it an issue in every city election? Only if you demand change, will change happen. Do you have to wait until a family member or friend is a victim of Minneapolis policing before you act or can you act now?