There has been much ado about Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan’s reluctance to discipline officers in cases sustained by the Civilian Review Authority (CRA). The reasons he was giving for his no-discipline decisions were a clear violation of the CRA ordinance.
Everyone who has served on the CRA Board for the past several years agrees with that proposition. Everyone who has read the annual reports of the CRA, which have included some of those reasons, can see the Chief has not been in compliance with the ordinance.
Well, almost everyone. Not the City Attorney’s Office. Their head-in-the-sand position is that the Chief has done nothing wrong — has not reviewed cases unlawfully instead of relying on the CRA panels’ determinations, has not given unlawful reasons (e.g., references to a complainant’s associates) for not issuing discipline, and has been complying with the discipline section of the CRA ordinance.
The City Attorney’s Office is no neutral party in such disputes. That office, of necessity, must rely on the cooperation of the police department in successfully prosecuting criminal cases on a daily basis. Convictions would be impossible without police officers’ testimony.
A year ago I filed a complaint against Chief Dolan, alleging he was not complying with the ordinance. Since the ordinance itself said such violations could result in disciplining the Chief, I inferred this was misconduct for which I could file such a complaint. My complaint could not be filed with the CRA, since the members of its board were all witnesses to the Chief’s misconduct. So I filed it with the Internal Affairs Unit of the Minneapolis Police Department.
After almost a year, I found out that IAU had to refer my complaint out because it could only be investigated by someone at or above the Chief’s level. Well, who do you think they referred it out to? The City Attorney’s Office of course — the very office that was advising the Chief he was complying with the ordinance. My complaint was going to be handled by what were essentially the Chief’s co-conspirators.
And today I heard back. I received a call from City Attorney Susan Segal, informing me that what I alleged in my complaint did not constitute a violation of the CRA ordinance.
Who woulda thunk!
Now I’m going back to reading Catch 22.