- Media Release: Minneapolis Hides Police Complaint Status; CUAPB Initiates Suit
February 3, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MINNEAPOLIS HIDES POLICE COMPLAINT STATUS; CUAPB INITIATES SUIT
Communities United Against Police Brutality has initiated suit today against the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) challenging their position that the status of complaints against police officers is no longer public data.
In the past, the CRA routinely released information on complaints in response to requests under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. CUAPB, members of the media and the general public were permitted to know of the existence of a complaint, the status of the complaint anywhere along the process, whether the complaint was sustained or not sustained, whether the complaint was referred to the chief of police for discipline and, once the complaint has reached final disposition, any discipline imposed.
However, on May 2, 2007, the Minneapolis city attorney’s office issued a memo directing the CRA staff and board to cease releasing status information on cases. The CRA immediately reclassified all cases, including sustained cases from years ago as “closed” with no indication as to how the case was actually handled.
“People who make the effort to file complaints get the feeling their complaints have fallen into a black hole,” stated Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “The lack of information makes people feel their complaints are not being heard and deprives the public of any real accountability.”
The city ordinance that created the CRA also allows the complainant the right to request reconsideration of non-sustained complaints. However, Gross points out, “If the complainant cannot know the status of his or her complaint, that right is meaningless.”
“We must restore transparency in the CRA complaint process,” stated Gross. She continued, “An open process engenders accountability and trust, the cornerstones of good police-community relations. We hope our lawsuit will restore the openness that allows people to trust the process.”