There is no shortage of complaints about the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit.
This was clear to any of the more than 30 people who attended the public forum at the Minneapolis Urban League North Monday night, the first of two forums that invited community members to voice their feelings on MPD’s internal affairs.
One after another, community members shared vivid tales of racism, brutality and corruption they have experienced with the MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit. The stories and complaints were exchanged for a full half hour later than the two hours the event was scheduled for.
“We need to do something,” one frustrated community member declared just before storming out of the room mid-meeting. “Cause if we don’t, we’re going to have a war on our hands; an all-out war. And that’s what we don’t want.”
The second forum took place Tuesday night at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design . Minneapolis police did not attend either event.
The forums are just one component of a larger-scale assessment on the unit being conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum – a private Washington, D.C.-based organization comprised of police executives from around the country.
The assessment began in response to a recommendation made by the city’s Civilian Police Review Authority in 2007, MPD Capt . Lawrence Doyle said.
Doyle said the recommendation was not made because of a high amount or the severity of complaints. It was seen as something that could benefit the unit, he said.
“The Minneapolis Police Department is comfortable with our process,” Doyle said about the current state of MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit. “We think it’s a good and fair process, and I don’t see any major changes coming from this.”
Bill Tegeler, PERF deputy director of management services and Monday’s meeting facilitator, said it’s not unusual to hear such a high amount of negative feedback at the public forums.
“When people come to these meetings, they don’t usually like to tell you what a great job internal affairs is doing,” Tegeler said.
PERF began the assessment in mid-April and have already spoken with many individuals and community groups, Tegeler said.
PERF will submit a comprehensive report of their findings and recommendations to the MPD by the end of July, he said.
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan will then control the contents of the report, and how it will be made available to the public, Doyle said.
Many community members voiced frustration with this process Monday night, suspicious that the Minneapolis police would filter negative information.
Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Scott Gerlicher said PERF will present the objective findings of their report to the Minneapolis City Council soon after it is released to Minneapolis police.
“If there are recommendations, then I look forward to seeing what those are so we can make those changes,” Gerlicher said.
The City Council meeting has yet to be scheduled, but Gerlicher expects it to be held around the end of July or early August, he said.