Plan proffered to return items seized by gang strike force


A plan is being put together to potentially help return money and property illegally seized by the Metro Gang Strike Force.

That was one of the items discussed at a joint hearing of House and Senate public safety divisions and committees. Further hearings are expected throughout the remainder of the year and into 2010 about force misconduct. (Watch the meeting.)

An Aug. 20 review panel report and a May 20 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor indicated that 10 or 12 force officers may have committed criminal activity by illegally taking cash or property from people with no gang connections. The reports indicate that cash was missing and some property was allegedly taken for personal use by officers.

One report recommendation was the appointment of a special master to help victims reclaim illegally seized cash and/or property.

However, a process has been jointly created by the MGSF Advisory Board, Department of Public Safety, the attorney general’s office and League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. Claimants could contact a hotline operated by the LMCIT, which would look into the claim. If the claimant does not accept the resolution, the case could be referred to the Office of Administrative Hearings where a decision would be rendered by an administrative law judge.

According to its Web site, “The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is a cooperative, member-owned organization founded during 1980 that provides property, liability, workers’ compensation and employee benefit needs to Minnesota cities. Members contribute premiums to a jointly-owned fund rather than paying premiums to buy insurance from a private insurance company. The funds are used to pay for members’ claims, losses and expenses.”

Gang strike force officers came from 13 law enforcement agencies across the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“Metro Gang Strike Force is an insured member of the LMCIT. We have some obligation to provide some response and some assistance to them; therefore, the funding comes from there,” said Doug Gronli, LMCIT claims manager. “In addition the sums of money that we might agree upon with the folks who have suffered loss or losses, that funding is going to come from metro gang funds.” He said there is no intent to ask for state funding.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion said he is scheduled to meet with metropolitan area law enforcement leaders next week to look at reducing the seven task forces dealing with gangs and violence and better share information between groups. He said recommendations from the two reports would be included to reduce the chances of future problems. Funding is being delayed from the department until a plan is adopted.

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