List from Communities United Against Police Brutality –
Solutions to police brutality, racism, and misconduct that could be implemented by the City Council and Mayor of Minneapolis
Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) has worked throughout the Twin Cities region for the last 14 years to reduce police brutality and to ensure accountability of police to the community. In Minneapolis, we have urged our elected officials to discipline brutal officers, strengthen civilian review, and implement policies that would protect the public. We have encountered consistent resistance from our supposed representatives. Some representatives claim to support our goals, but say they don’t know what to do. From our experience and research, CUAPB has compiled the list below, as suggestions for action by our City Council and Mayor, and as demands that can be advocated by the people of Minneapolis.
Many people view police brutality, racism, and misconduct as intractable problems, because they are long-standing and wide-spread. There is no one solution. But there are many solutions, and a combination of the ones listed below would go a long way toward eliminating the problem in our city. If implemented, the impact on people’s lives would be immense.
We need more than fuzzy goals and aspirations. The list below contains only those practical, specific solutions that could be implemented quickly by the Mpls City Council and Mayor. They require no outside authorization, no state or federal action, no change in the economic or social system. The mayor and city council are responsible for the police, the Civil Rights Department, all city ordinances, and, through the City Attorney’s Office, the prosecution of misdemeanors. This list does not include important solutions that could be achieved through state and federal laws, or by our schools, courts, and jails, because those are outside the powers and responsibilities of the mayor and city council.
To Mayor Hodges and the City Council: Here is what we need from you. These are actions by which we can evaluate your commitment to better policing in Minneapolis, and your commitment to those who have been mistreated and discriminated against by your police department. You have the power; do you have the political will?
1) Personal liability (malpractice) insurance for police officers, through a Charter Amendment. This is the current project of the Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP), and is explained in the blue flyers we have been passing out. This is intended to provide real consequences for officers, rather than the current practice where taxpayers foot the bill and the officers never receive any discipline. We don't expect this to be supported by the mayor or council, which is why we are petitioning for a referendum. Nevertheless, some support on the council would be welcome and helpful.
2) Scrap the current Office of Police Conduct Review, a hybrid civilian / police organization in the Civil Rights Department, which replaced the Civilian Review Authority (CRA). This idea was developed in secrecy and was designed to fail. It can not be reformed; it is worse than useless. Real civilian oversight is needed. Perhaps the CRA should be revived, but with more power, including subpoena power.
3) In the City Charter, the mayor is granted complete authority for police discipline. It is only a matter of practice that all mayors have delegated that authority to the police chief. The mayor could delegate at least some aspects of that power to a civilian body. Or the mayor could retain some of that authority, taking a greater part in overseeing the chief's discretion, and overturning the chief's decision when necessary.
4) Reform the police union contract. All other city employees can be disciplined or even fired if their conduct costs the city hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars. The police union is very powerful, but that is largely because the council and mayor allow it to be.
5) Change the management in the Civil Rights Department, starting with the firing of Director Velma Korbel and of Michael Browne, the head of the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR). Both were instrumental in the secretive process that destroyed the CRA; it can not be reinstated with them still in charge. Both continue to obstruct any attempt at police accountability or discipline. The department is currently broken, and by all reports has been for decades. Korbel has also created a hostile work environment for those who care about the mission of the department.
6) In investigations of police killings or other serious incidents, officers should be treated the same as other suspects unless or until their actions are shown to be justified. In particular, they must be detained, sequestered from other officers, and interrogated immediately. They must not be given days to meet together and get their stories straight.
7) Police who lie under oath should be terminated (as called for by present police policy) and prosecuted for perjury.
8) Require occasional random searches of squad cars for such items as throw-down guns, lead-weighted gloves, other unapproved weapons, and illegal drugs (either not turned in to the evidence room, or kept for planting on suspects).
9) Implement an Early Warning System, to identify officers who engage in frequent misconduct, to reform their conduct or terminate them before they kill or seriously injure someone. The Police Department has been saying for years that they have done this, or that they are preparing to do this, but there is no evidence of any action taken as a result. Require documentation.
10) Improve the police supervisory structure. Unlike nearly all workplaces, officers do not have a regular supervisor to track their performance. Instead, each day they report to the particular shift supervisor. This decreases accountability.
11) End the practice of rotating officers through the Internal Affairs Unit. IAU investigators should be permanent members of the IAU (as were investigators for the CRA). As it is, the IAU investigators know they will soon be back on the street, partnered with officers they have disciplined [or, as is now always the case, not disciplined].
12) More transparency for the Internal Affairs Unit. The IAU has not even issued their annual report for the last several years. The IAU needs to separate out statistics for outside civilian complaints and internal supervisory complaints. In a ten-year period studied by the CUAPB, there was frequent discipline, even firings, for such things as drinking on the job, not showing up, insubordination, etc. - the same kinds of things as in any business. But in 10 years, only 2 officers were even disciplined as the result of a civilian complaint.
13) The Police Chief’s Citizens Advisory Council should meet in public and document their meetings. Members should not be hand-picked by the Chief.
14) Document all lawsuits against the city on the city's website. This is done in Chicago, for instance.
15) Greater diversity in police hiring and promotion.
16) Implement improved psychological screening for applicants.
17) Implement serious anti-racism training for the police, instead of the current “cultural sensitivity” training. Impose discipline for all uses of racial epithets. Improve training for interactions with juveniles and those with mental illness or disabilities. Emphasize de-escalation skills in all training.
18) Investigate any outside training received by officers from private contractors and prohibit training by those that encourage excessive use of force.
19) End scorched-earth prosecution of bogus charges against those who are injured by the police. This practice is intended to reduce city liabilities for police misconduct by making it nearly impossible to sue the police. This is an improper use of the discretionary power of the city attorney's office.
20) Document and publicize statistics on arrests not leading to prosecution, including racial disparities in these. Identify problem officers as well as problems in the city attorney's office.
21) Analyze the results of searches in comparison to the items in the search warrants. Identify problem officers who falsely claim probable cause, or judges who issue warrants without proper evidence.
22) Collect and publicize statistics on racial profiling. Correct the practices of officers who are shown by the data to profile and discriminate. In particular, document racial disparities in stop and frisk, in arrests for "livability" crimes, and in drug arrests.
23) De-prioritize the enforcement of drug possession, which primarily targets people of color, leads to excessive incarceration of non-violent offenders, and provides a pretext for police action. End those police stops which are based on no more than the belief that the suspect possesses illegal drugs.
24) De-criminalize homelessness. Eliminate the so-called "camping" ordinances. Stop police confiscation of possessions.
25) Repeal the lurking ordinance. During a period when statistics were compiled, 100% of charges under the ordinance were against people of color.
26) Implement better police policies in the Police Policy and Procedure Manual. A few of the many possibilities: a) The Taser policy needs to be reviewed to reduce excessive and improper use. b) The city needs a clear policy allowing the recording of police actions, including videotaping. This should be based on the DOJ letter of May 2012, outlining the federal requirements for such a policy. c) Improved crowd control policies. Re-implement important protections removed by the City Council prior to the 2008 RNC convention. d) Follow the lead of the cities which are implementing new “locate and bark” policies for K-9 use. Based on the Terrance Franklin incident, Mpls clearly uses the “locate and bite” policy, with tragic results.
27) Adopt the use of body cameras, but ONLY with proper policies to protect evidence, and to protect privacy. These policies must be decided on with public knowledge and input, rather than by the secret process used so far.
28) Ban steroid use by police officers and implement random testing for compliance.
29) SWAT Team reform, in recruitment, screening, training, policies, and oversight. SWAT Team use is excessive.
30) De-militarize the police. Stop accepting or buying equipment and weapons from the military, and get rid of existing military equipment.
31) Refuse city approval or cooperation with military training exercises, such as the recent low-flying helicopters downtown. Note: List is not in order of priority. CUAPB has more information and research available on all of the above items.
Last revision: 9/18/14
This information compiled by Communities United Against Police Brutality. Join us! We meet at 1:30 every Saturday at 4200 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis. For more information or for help with a police brutality incident, call our 24-hour hotline: 612-874-STOP or website: www.CUAPB.org.