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Rybak: State should investigate high-profile police issues

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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says the state of Minnesota should investigate cases when the city's police officers use lethal force.

Rybak told MPR News on Friday that serious, high-profile cases deserve to be investigated by a completely independent agency, like the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Gov. Mark Dayton blocked a plan announced by Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau to have the BCA investigate incidents where city officers hurt or kill someone.

Earlier this week Dayton's spokesman Matt Swenson said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune that Harteau unilaterally announced the proposed arrangement without first notifying the Commissioner of Public Safety, Governor Dayton or the Governor's Chief of Staff – a course of action Dayton considers extremely inappropriate.

A police department spokesperson said Harteau was "perplexed" by the governor's reaction, according to a KSTP report. She said the Minneapolis Police Department and BCA officials have been meeting on the issue since last summer and that both sides decided to finalize the arrangement and put it in effect at a joint meeting last Friday.

The Minneapolis Police Federation was critical of Harteau's plan and argued the department's internal affairs officers should continue to investigate the cases.

Rybak accused the union of "throwing its political weight around" in his statements to MPR on Friday. "The union should not dictate whether the people of this city or whether the police officers should be able to get an independent review," he said.

Prior to Dayton's announcement on Wednesday the move had been received relatively well received.

Outgoing City Council Member Don Samuels said, "I think it's consistent with the chief's commitment to accountability and transparency," according to the Star Tribune report.

Harteau said this week she had been considering the move even before she took office. That was before the high-profile shooting of Terrance Franklin on May 10. Police say Franklin was shot by officers during a chase and struggle with police.

The police department came under fire for conducting its own investigation in the case, but a Hennepin County grand jury later found insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges against the officers.

Former head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, Kenneth Brown told the Star Tribune that it doesn't work for the police department to investigate itself in these high-profile cases. Brown said, "It's just like doctors saying they can discipline doctors. That's not going to happen. It's the same old systemic garbage that's been going on forever."

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office used to investigate officer-involved fatality cases, before it was ended by former Chief Bill McManus in 2004.

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