Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Performance Reveiw on the Safe City Resolution

Today we had a lengthy and clearly divided public hearing on the reappointment of Tim Dolan as the Chief of Police. Clearly he has many supporters and people throughout the city who appreciate the work he has done. In the end, however, I did not vote to support his reappointment in the committee. In doing so I tried to outline areas where had hoped to see, and will expect to see in the future if he is reappointed, more improvement.

To prepare for my decision I drafted the following:

Performance Review of the Police Chief on the “Safe City Resolution,” 2006R-542, Endorsing a leadership and accountability framework for ensuring Minneapolis is a Safe Place to Call Home.

By Cam Gordon, Council Member, Second Ward

When the City Council approved Mayor Rybak’s appointment of Timothy Dolan as Chief of Police in 2006, we unanimously passed a “Safe City Resolution,” laying out an accountability framework for the new Chief. I committed myself to “evaluate the performance of the Chief of Police” based on the following ten key indicators. I took this commitment seriously, have tracked the performance of the Police Department on these indicators over the last three years, and will base my decision on whether or not to reappoint the Chief in large part on these indicators. Below are my own personal assessments of the Police Department’s and Police Chief’s performance on each indicator.

1) Incorporate the City’s strategies of “Guns, Gangs, Graffiti Gone” and “Crime Reduction: Community Policing, Accountability & Partnership;” into the Department’s five-year business plan.

Assessment: Good. These strategies have been incorporated into the Department’s business plans.

2) Commit to working collaboratively with the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) to reach a shared goal of 100% MPD discipline of sustained CRA complaints and report jointly to the Council on a quarterly basis the number of IA and CRA complaints received, sustained, and the level of discipline imposed.

Assessment: Unacceptable. In February of 2006 the City Council created a work group that included 6 Council Members, a Policy Aide to the Mayor, the Interim Director of the Civil Rights Department, the CRA Manager, the Deputy City Attorney, the CRA Board Chair, the city’s Chief Labor Negotiator, a representative from the Minneapolis Police Federation and the Assistant Police Chief. The Civilian Review Authority (CRA) Working Group was established to address the recommendations in the report, A Study of the Policy and Process of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority. The Working Group met 15 times from mid-April through August 2006, and held two sessions for public comment. The group made significant and substantial improvements to the CRA practices, to its relationship to the Police Department and to the CRA ordinance itself. It clearly outlined a path for a more successful and effective Civilian Review Authority that was committed to and dependent on collaboration with the Police Chief and the Department.

Regrettably, the most recent CRA report makes very clear that the shared goal of 100% MPD discipline of sustained CRA complaints has not been met, and that the responsibility lies with the Chief.

In fact, the discipline rate has been unacceptably low. The case has been made by the Chief that this is due to a number of complaints having been “beyond the reckoning period,” but this strikes me as a confusing and inadequate response. The MPD Complaint Process Manual defines the “reckoning period” as:

“…the period of time in which a previous infraction may be considered for increasing discipline in a current disciplinary action. Also, if a complaint if filed on an employee and the reckoning period for the complaint would already be expired even if the complaint was sustained, the Internal Affairs Unit will not open a formal case on the matter. The complaint will be closed as a preliminary case with the notation ‘reckoning period expired prior to complaint being filed”. The reckoning period is set by the Minneapolis Police Department.”

There are major problems with using the reckoning period as a reason to not discipline CRA complaints:

1) the purpose of the reckoning period is not to be a “statute of limitations” on infractions, but a period for which a previous infraction may increase the penalty for a subsequent infraction
2) the CRA ordinance does not authorize the Chief to refuse to discipline based on the reckoning period and in fact makes no mention of it whatsoever
3) the fact that the reckoning period is used to guide the decision about whether or not IAU would open a formal case on a given complaint has no bearing on the Chief’s responsibilities under the CRA ordinance for dealing with complaints that have been investigated and sustained by the CRA

If the Police Chief had followed the recommendations of the CRA work group in a timely and effective manner, and more carefully followed the procedures outlined in the amended CRA ordinance, we could be celebrating a new level of trust and confidence in the department today. Instead, the City’s network of Police oversight and the effectiveness of Civilian Review Authority appear to be as ineffective and disregarded by the department as it was prior to the enormous investment of resources put to reforming it in 2006.

In the final analysis I have concluded that the Chief’s performance on this measure has been unacceptably poor.

3) Review and report findings and recommendations to Public Safety & Regulatory Services regarding the MPD’s early warning system to ensure it reflects best practices for identifying officers who may be having problems on the job, intervention systems for those officers, and post-intervention monitoring of identified officers. This early warning system should centralize data from a range of performance criteria that includes but is not limited to resident complaints.

Assessment: Unsatisfactory. According to the Chief’s own documentation, this system is still being developed, three years after the Safe City Resolution was adopted. The Chief’s response refers to working on this system for the past two years, which begs the question: why did MPD wait for a year after the adoption of the Safe City Resolution to start work on this system?

4) Adhere to the Council-adopted plans to diversify the MPD workforce through hiring, promotion and appointment, and retention policies, including as described in the Federal Mediation Agreement.

Assessment: Fair. The MPD is now more diverse than it has ever been, as a result of major recent increases in the diversity of recruits.

However, there are still concerns in the Department about promotions and how the Chief has anticipated, handled and faced these issues head on. The actions, or lack of actions, that necessitated that the City pay out a $740,000 settlement to a group of Black officers who sued over discrimination in promotion is a case in point. It is clear that much work has been done here but more work must be done to ensure that officers of color, once they are recruited and hired, are given fair promotion opportunities.

5) Commit to end racial profiling as described by the Federal Mediation Agreement by continuing to collect data, adopt explicit policy and procedure to end racial profiling, provide anti-racism training for officers, and set goals for racial profiling tracking and reduction which shall be reported to Public Safety & Regulatory Services.

Assessment: Fair. Explicit policy on ending racial profiling has been adopted. Goals for racial profiling tracking and reduction have not been communicated to a Council committee.

6) Implement a community policing plan and set long-term policy and practice changes to improve police-community relations with all communities, which includes working with the Council and Mayor to determine funding for the plan and presenting periodic reports on the plan to Public Safety & Regulatory Services.

Assessment: Fair. We have made significant strides in this area. The designation of Sector Lieutenants and liaison officers to serve particular communities has helped. Neighborhood policing plans have been created, although the resident often don’t know about, feel their input is valued or embrace these as fully as they could. In many cases, these plans are written not by or in coordination with neighborhood stakeholders, but by MPD employees. The plans do not yet have a significant impact on the allocation of MPD resources.

Additionally work that MPD is doing to improve relations with some communities, including work with ex-offenders and specific outreach to East African youth is commendable.

However, there have been some actions taken by the Chief have sent the wrong message and have worsened the relationships with some communities of color, This includes the decision to award the officer who shot a young person and the officers who opened fire in the home of an innocent Hmong family, without the appropriate level of sensitivity about how this could be interpreted. These missteps have contributed to a growing, not diminishing, gap between these communities and the MPD and City as a whole.

7) Adopt department performance measures and outcomes that aren’t solely about crime rates and reflect these in the Department’s business plan. Such performance measures should include:
• Case clearance rate goals
• Arrest rate goals
• Goals for number of cases charged
• Develop performance measures to improve city and neighborhood livability as it relates to crime

Assessment: Good. These measures have been included in Results Minneapolis reporting.

8) Utilize, evaluate, and improve risk management practices to reduce city liability for police misconduct and other issues.

Assessment: Unacceptable. According to Finance Department documents, the MPD has paid out $8,738,999.37 since 1/07. This averages out to $2,912,999.79, which is a substantial increase from the historical yearly average of $1,848,672.75 in the 2003-2006 period. The Chief’s claim that “[t]he department has reduced payments in settlements and lawsuits during the last three years” is therefore demonstrably and clearly false.

The Department may argue that not all of the incidents for which payouts occurred in the 2007-2009 period occurred since Chief Dolan became interim Chief. This is true. Only $889,163.12 has been paid out based on incidents since he became interim Chief. However, there are clearly incidents that have occurred on his watch that have not yet resulted in a settlement as well. From the data we have to base a judgment on, the Department has not made any significant progress on this indicator.

The Chief notes that “[t]he Early Intervention System discussed earlier is also an effort to identify and reduce problematic actions by employees at an early stage,” in an attempt to control liability. However, as noted above, this system is not yet operational, three years after the Council identified it as a performance measure for the Chief.

9) Complete all items in the Federal Mediation Agreement and continue to provide regularly scheduled progress reports to Public Safety & Regulatory Services Committee.

Assessment: Unsatisfactory. Not all items in the Federal Mediation Agreement have been completed. Depending on whether one uses the Department’s tally or the community’s tally, either 16 or 55 of 119 items remain unresolved. Since the agreement was allowed to end there appears to be no effort to monitor or complete the remaining items.

10) Honor the Chief’s commitment to ongoing communication with the Minneapolis City Council by attending the Public Safety and Regulatory Safety Committee as able and requested.

Assessment: Unsatisfactory. The Chief has displayed a willingness to come before Council committees and engage in constructive dialogue. However, MPD has not complied with a number of staff directions and requests from the Council. On several occasions, MPD has responded late or not at all to a Council committee direction or request. Examples include:

- On April 1, 2009, the PS&RS committee directed MPD to “report back to PS&RS no later than July 22nd with a report on the current procedure for changing the Police Policy and Procedure Manual; and propose a process for including input from the City Attorney’s Office, Police Federation, MPD Staff, the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Board, City Council and Mayor’s Office.” MPD reported back not on 7/22/09, but on 9/2/09, and the report was not responsive to the committee’s direction, as it did not include a proposed process for including input from the listed stakeholders.

- On September 11, 2008, Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson requested by letter that the MPD “Conduct an After Action Review and produce a report on the RNC, to be completed by the end of October 2008 and provided to the Mayor and Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee. This report will focus on the major incidents that occurred in Minneapolis: the Critical Mass Ride, the Media Party, the Liberty Parade, and the Rage against the Machine Concert. It will also evaluate how downtown security worked overall. It will evaluate how well operations and training protocols were implemented, identify what worked and what did not, and recommend if necessary any policy changes.” [Emphasis added]. MPD has not complied with this request. The After Action Review has never been presented to the PS&RS committee, and was made available to committee members only after repeated requests.

- In January, 2009, the PS&RS committee directed MPD to “report back at the February 25th PS&RS Meeting with an update, and then on a quarterly basis, on progress made toward implementing the 28 Police Executive Research Forum recommendations and to track progress toward implementation through Results Minneapolis.” This report was not presented on 2/25/09, but more than a month later on 4/1/09. Quarterly reports have not been made to committee on “progress made toward implementing the 28 Police Executive Research Forum recommendations.”

- On July 25, 2007, PS&RS directed MPD to “explore the creation of a “Bait Bicycle” program to catch and deter bicycle thieves in the City of Minneapolis, with a report back to the PS&RS Committee in no less than two months with an analysis of the costs involved in such a program and recommendations for Council action.” No report on a bait bicycle program has ever been presented to a Council committee featuring “an analysis of the costs involved in such a program and recommendations for Council action.”


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