Last week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, City Attorney Jim Rowader, and Interim Civil Rights Director Frank Reed announced that they were implementing new internal disciplinary processes and measures for the Minneapolis Police Department. The new measures are an effort to help keep Minneapolis officers accountable for misconduct on the job. The present system has been vastly criticized for its inability to hold officers accountable.
Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo said the city attorney’s office would be more deeply involved in misconduct investigations as soon as they begin, helping to guide them and to analyze evidence.
Frey said more than 50% of all disciplinary cases are either reduced or overturned, with arbitrators typically citing due process concerns such as faulty investigation. He called that unacceptable. “We want to take every reason that stems from city hall for overturning a disciplinary decision off the table,” said the mayor.
The city attorney’s office will also offer the chief legal advice on disciplinary decisions and work with the department’s training unit to make sure it is “fostering a culture of accountability and professionalism.”
The changes come in the wake of pressure brought to bear by Minneapolis citizens and activists in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd last Memorial Day by Minneapolis police. The trial of Derek Chauvin, who was seen in the video of Floyd’s last moments with his knee on his neck, is scheduled for this March. The three other officers involved will stand trial as well.
Anti-police violence activists have long accused the City of Minneapolis of turning a deaf ear to citizen complaints about police misconduct. It has not helped that the Hennepin County attorney has almost always failed to indict cops who injure, harm, or outright kill BIPOC. Chauvin had 17 complaints of misconduct lodged against him, and records show he was only disciplined once.
The following changes were proposed:
- Embedding a city attorney on the front-end of police misconduct investigations to increase investigation integrity by determining if areas of investigation should be further pursued, or analyzing available evidence relating to allegations of misconduct.
- Assigning a city attorney to provide legal advice to the police chief at the time of disciplinary decisions, adding capacity and resources to receive up-to-date information and legal counsel.
- Placing staff from the city attorney’s office with the MPD training unit to review training materials prior to delivery, ensuring all training materials are consistent in fostering a culture of accountability and professionalism.