Department of Justice division releases recommendations for MPD

The Office of Justice Program’s Diagnostic Center — a division within the Department of Justice — has released recommendations for the Minneapolis Police Department, including establishing a new early intervention system to identify problematic behavior among officers.

The recommendations were presented Wednesday at City Hall to a packed room with several organizers from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and Communities United Against Police Brutality expressing distrust over the study’s process and anger over how police misconduct complaints are handled within the city.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau called on the Diagnostic Center to conduct an independent review of complaints filed against officers from 2008 to 2013 and come up recommendations to move forward with reforms.

Harteau said there’s been a call for an outside review of the MPD for many years.

“Although I have the utmost confidence in this department, I think progressive departments and progressive leaders are always looking for independent reviews as a way to do things better,” she said. “This is just the beginning. This is when the real work starts.”

In addition to establishing an improved early intervention system to weed out problem officers, the Diagnostic Center recommended strengthening coaching of officers, greater transparency in the civilian complaint process, improved community relations and a stronger strategic communications strategy.

Hildy Saizow, a senior diagnostic specialist with the Diagnostic Center, said the MPD turned to coaching as the predominate way to handle officers accused of complaints. During the study period (2008-2013), 418 officers received “corrective action” or “coaching.” The department terminated 12 officers during that same period and suspended 64 for police misconduct.

The next step for the department will be to form a steering committee along with subcommittees to come up with a plan for moving forward with reforms — a process that will include police leaders, union members, community members, City Council members and representatives from the mayor’s office and the Office for Police Conduct Review.

The city’s Office for Police Conduct Review is the successor to the Police Civilian Review Authority, which was dismantled in 2012. Critics of the Office for Police Conduct Review have argued it lacks power and has resulted in less discipline for officers involved in misconduct cases.

Deputy Chiefs Kristine Arneson and Medaria Arrandando will co-chair the steering committee.

“It is very important that we measure our progress,” Arneson said.

Activists who attended the presentation expressed anger about not knowing the people who were interviewed by the Diagnostic Center and called for a more comprehensive review of the Office of Police Conduct Review. They also questioned why the final report was a power point and not something more substantial. 

Saizow said the scope of the study was limited to an analysis of officer complaints, not the effectiveness of the Office of Police Conduct Review overall. It was also noted that participants in the study were guaranteed confidentiality so names were not released.

Michelle Gross, founder of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said study organizers should have been more transparent and asked local leaders with expertise in police brutality issues to be involved in the review process.

“Those people were not brought to the table. We were not allowed to be part of this process,” she said. “It’s been a secretive process throughout the entire thing.”

Harteau, meanwhile, urged people at the presentation to get involved with reform work moving forward.

“I’m calling on people in this room to participate. I want you at the table. I need you at the table,” she said. “But if you’re not at the table, please withhold your judgment.”