CRA work group moves forward
There were some definite sparks at the 6-29-06 CRA work group meeting. My esteemed colleague and fellow work group member Betsy Hodges introduced an ordinance amendment for the work group's review. Here's the text:
"172.130 Disciplinary Decision. (a) Upon conclusion of the hearing and request for reconsideration process, the review authority shall forward the investigatory file, the findings of fact and the panel determination to the chief of police, who shall make a disciplinary decision based upon this information. A disciplinary decision is the issuance of a verbal warning, written warning, suspension, or termination. The chief's disciplinary decision shall be based on the adjuicated facts as determined by the CRA Board, and shall not include a de novo review of the facts by the MPD's Internal Affairs Unit or any other police officer, unit, or division. Under this ordinance, a sustained CRA complaint shall be deemed just cause for disciplinary action by the chief of police or the mayor of Minneapolis.
In cases where the CRA Board has determined that specific facts constitute a violation of the MPD Policy and Procedure manual, under no circumstances should the MPD Internal Affairs Unit or any other police officer, unit, or division be allowed to alter, augment, or reviese the designation."
I strongly supported all aspects of this amendment, and it became clear through the ensuing discussion that most of my Council colleagues and the majority of the group supported it as well. At that point I did something that has become somewhat controversial: I called the question. Council Member Ralph Remington seconded, and the majority of the group voted to proceed directly to a vote. The majority of the group then voted to forward the Hodges amendment with the group's recommendation.
I considered this and still consider this a step in the right direction. I realize that these amendments are controversial - effective civilian oversight of the Police Department always has been. I believe that police accountability advocates have waited long enough for the CRA to be empowered to do the job it was set up to do - sixteen years have gone by since its inception. I also realize that the Hodges amendment may be altered to deal with concerns that have been expressed, especially regarding the definition of "disciplinary decision."
I believe it is healthy and proper for reasonable persons on the Council and City Staff to disagree, and to do so in public committee meetings.
As to the future of the work group, I was greatly heartened by this morning's meeting. All work group members but two attended, including all those members who disagreed with the action taken on 6-29. People were engaged, constructive, and highly professional. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the incredibly high quality of all of my "co-workers" down here in City Hall, Council Members, staff and volunteer activists alike.
To make your opinions part of the official record, written comments may be sent to Natalie Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 350 S. 5th St., Room 307, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
The work group will also hold at least one additional public hearing (date to be announced) and the Council will have official public hearings before any recommended ordinance changes can be adopted. So stay tuned.
To learn more about or the CRA work group efforts so far check out the following reports:
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2006-meetings/20060630/HEE20060619agenda.asp Item #9
A Study of the Policy and Process of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority – 02/01/06