Ever since the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) was established in the early 1990’s, Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Chiefs have been reluctant to impose discipline on officers in CRA-sustained cases of misconduct. Chief Dolan is no exception.
Of the last 22 CRA-sustained cases in which he has made a disciplinary decision, Chief Dolan imposed no discipline in 19 of them. According to the ordinance, the Chief is supposed to base his disciplinary decision on “the adjudicated facts as determined by the civilian review authority board.” De novo review of the facts is prohibited.
But the CRA’s annual reports reflect a different story. The 2008 report, for example, says that among the reasons the Chief has given for his no-discipline decisions are “dispute with the facts contained in the hearing panel decision and insufficient evidence.” That seems to violate the ordinance. How could the Chief determine there was a “dispute with the facts” or the evidence was “insufficient” without looking at the evidence anew?
A depressing side note: On August 17, 2009, Mayor Rybak, in a public statement displayed on his website, said, “Chief Dolan has a record of taking tough disciplinary action against officers when our high standards are not being met.” Indeed, some officers have been fired, but mainly for conduct close to criminal. With respect to the CRA-sustained cases, I live on a different planet than the Mayor, maybe in a parallel universe.
The ordinance also says the CRA chairperson “shall notify the executive committee [of the City of Minneapolis] of the chief’s failure to comply with the requirements of this section, and such failure may subject the chief to disciplinary action.” The CRA Board has never used this power — or, more accurately, has never performed this duty.
Well, if this behavior could subject the Chief to disciplinary action, I made the logical leap that it must be misconduct. So, in the spirit of assisting in the enforcement of this ordinance, today I filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Unit of the MPD against Police Chief Dolan for violating this ordinance by giving illegal reasons for his no-discipline decisions.
I had to file it with Internal Affairs because the CRA Board members are my witnesses. They were the people who were given the illegal reasons by the Chief. It gets even weirder than that. If my complaint is sustained, guess who decides what discipline to impose. You got it: Police Chief Dolan.
Wish me luck.