Mpls. police handling of misconduct cases needs work, report says

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The Minneapolis Police Department has improved its handling of citizen complaints against its officers in recent years, but needs to be more transparent about the process and do more training of officers to prevent conflicts from arising, according to a Justice Department review of the department released Wednesday.

Police Chief Janeé Harteau requested the study be done in response to community concerns about how Minneapolis police treat people of color, and how the department handles complaints against those officers.

The report was made public Wednesday at a news conference that was attended by dozens of activists who said they're skeptical about the police department's ability to "police" itself on these issues.

The study looked at police misconduct complaints filed from 2008-2013, and found that about half of them were dismissed. Those that went forward resulted in the officer being sent to coaching more often than not.

More serious disciplinary actions such as suspensions or terminations were rare – about 7-20 cases each year, according to the report.

The report concluded the police department needs to be better at communicating how police complaints are resolved; providing better training for officers in dealing with people from different cultures; creating an early intervention system to identify problematic behavior among officers; and improving relations with communities of color.

Community activists in attendance, including members of Black Lives Matter, said they don't trust the police department to handle police brutality cases on their own, and expressed concern that local leaders with expertise in that area were not involved in the review process, according to the Southwest Journal.

“Those people were not brought to the table. We were not allowed to be part of this process,” said Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality, according to the Journal. “It’s been a secretive process throughout the entire thing.”

Chief Harteau urged those in the room to get involved in the process, saying, “I want you at the table. I need you at the table,” according to the Journal. “But if you’re not at the table, please withhold your judgment.”

Harteau said the report gave the department concrete recommendations on how to improve its relationship with the public, according to WCCO.

The next steps in the process including setting up committees made up of police and community officials to develop a plan for moving forward on the recommendations.

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