- Who Will Be the Next Chief?
- Rickey Jones Case Update
WHO WILL BE THE NEXT CHIEF?
Mayor Rybak has apparently gotten serious about searching for a new police chief--or has he?
Last week, Rybak released a list of 21 people from whom he will seek input on candidates. This so-called "community" team is stacked with city hall insiders, including the former mayor, various county and school board officials and John Delmonico, head of the police federation. Not a single member of this team is a known critic of police policies and practices. In fact, most have no known expertise in the area. Moreover, most of them aren't even known as community leaders.
To present the appearance of being interested in what the community has to say, Rybak and company are holding a public hearing for one hour tonight (September 9) from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. at City Hall in the city council chambers. We plan to be there and we encourage you to do the same. After that, folks who are lucky enough to have internet access can also have input by emailing their comments to The Oldani Group, the firm the city is paying big bucks to conduct the search, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, we aren't stopping there. We will hold two community meetings to give the community opportunities for real input throughout the process:
Thursday, October 2nd
North Regional Library
1315 Lowry Avenue North
Thursday, October 9
347 E 36th Street
Rybak states that the cutoff for having community input into the selection process is September 12th but we aren't accepting that. Why the big rush? Perhaps they are trying to railroad the community into accepting their insider choices: Sharon Lubinski or Lucy Gerrold. This would be a mistake.
This is a police department with serious brutality and misconduct problems. Officers on the street are given little to no direction or supervision to guide them. Brutal cops have acted with impunity for a long, long time. Racism, classism and other prejudices are tolerated if not outright facilitated within the department. The very culture of this department needs to be shaken from the ground up. It would be a serious mistake to install someone who has been part of maintaining this culture. We strongly suggest the city look outside of this police department for new leadership that can change the organizational culture, top to bottom. As the saying goes, we need a new broom to sweep out old dirt.
The police chief is probably the most important unelected position in the city. That individual oversees the work of 1100 people, controls a huge hunk of the city's budget ($100 million) and sets policy that contributes greatly toward the quality of life for people in this city. Despite Rybak's efforts to bum rush the community, we will demand that the community have a real place at the table in selecting the new police chief. We will make sure the voices of the community are heard!
RICKEY JONES CASE UPDATE: City Attorney's Office Feeling the Heat but Not Seeing the Light
We were back in court on September 4th and 5th for a continuation hearing on whether the tapes in the Rickey Jones case had been tampered with and by whom. Once again, we were astounded by differences in the versions of the tapes we saw and by admissions by city employees. Here's some of the juicier information that came out this time:
*Jerry Dexter, investigator for the City Attorney's office, testified that he personally copied the tapes on the weekend of April 21-22 (why he did this on the weekend was never explained). He stated that if his office receives a camcorder tape, he usually makes one copy onto a standard VHS format so the assistant city attorney would not need to use an adapter to view the tape. For some unknown reason, though, he made two tapes in this case. He also stated that after copying all tapes, he prepares a memo to document his work and this is placed in the case file. He said he would have made the memo for these tapes on April 24th. He then gave the camcorder tape and two copies to Tom Peterson, another investigator for the city attorney's office. He also testified that the city attorney's office NEVER sends tapes out for copying unless they are a very unusual format (such as security camera tapes with multiple tracts on the same tape). Meaning that assistant city attorney Lois Conroy would have known that the tapes had been copied and available during the time that Rickey's attorney was trying to obtain a copy AND that she possibly lied when she went to court on May 15th and told the judge that the tape had been sent out for copying, after being told to bring the tape with her to court.
*Police Officer Steve Wourinen scowlingly testified about arresting Rickey Jones, taking him to the hospital, etc. He was shown a property room report which stated that two SONY tapes were checked in. (Rickey says that this is the only brand he ever uses.) However, the camcorder tape the city attorney's office is claiming to be the original is not only not labeled the way Rickey had labeled his tape BUT it is a TD brand of tape, not Sony!
*Tom Peterson, investigator for the city attorney's office, admitted on the stand that he had called the expert witness who was hired by Jill Clark, Rickey's attorney, to examine the tape. He never said why he called. He implied in his testimony that the expert was "back pedalling" about whether the tape had been tampered with. However, during the testimony it slipped out that Peterson had taped their conversation and that the city attorney's office had withheld that tape and other key memos. Judge Bush forced the city attorney's office to share that new information with Rickey's attorneys. The tape was played and no such "back pedalling" was heard.
*During testimony, the two investigators and various paralegals working at the city attorney's office testified that they held group meetings with Lois Conroy to "prep" their testimony. This is a clear violation of the sequestration order issued by Judge Bush. (Sequestration orders are often issued by judges so that potential witnesses can't sit in the courtroom and tailor their testimony as a result of hearing other witnesses. They are also not supposed to share stories about how they plan to testify.) Judge Bush acknowledged that this was a problem and stated that this would weigh heavily on the credibility of witnesses from the city attorney's office.
Watching the behavior of the city attorney's office during this hearing is a whole lot like seeing rats trying to figure out how to jump off a sinking ship. They're in a hell of a mess and the only thing they can think to do is dig the hole deeper and deeper.
The evidentiary hearing will resume soon, though a date has not yet been sent. We will let you know as soon as we know. If you like watching public officials squirm, make time to sit in on this hearing.
Communities United Against Police Brutality
2104 Stevens Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)