As noted in the editorial above, recent reports based on a leaked draft of a city Civil Rights Department probe raise questions about boundaries between Minneapolis cops and EMS personnel when they work together. Let’s be clear: Police should not direct or demand any administration of drugs. Those decisions should be made by health care professionals. Period.
At least three investigations of these matters are in the works. Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo have called for an independent probe (to be headed by former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, it was announced Friday). A City Council committee wants an internal review and outside audit of the final Civil Rights Department report. And Hennepin Healthcare is evaluating the actions of its EMS staff.
City and county authorities are right to conduct independent investigations; the Star Tribune Editorial Board called for such probes. Among questions that need answers:
When and how were city officials notified about these incidents? Hennepin Healthcare says EMS staffers said they told city authorities in April that they felt “pressured’’ to use ketamine by cops. By another account, city and police officials learned about the incidents from the draft investigative report in May. At that point, the chief adopted a policy stating that officers “shall never suggest or demand EMS Personnel” use a sedative on a suspect.
What does video evidence reveal? The draft internal report was based on police body-camera footage of encounters involving suspects, cops and medical staff. The public should be able to see what happened.
What will be the consequences for cops? If reviews determine that officers acted improperly, can any retroactive action can be taken? What disciplinary consequences will be in place going forward?
The ketamine issue adds to a long list of Minneapolis Police Department problems. From general policing methods, to downtown crime concerns, to racial profiling and use of excessive force, the department has been working to improve public confidence. All the more reason city authorities should respond decisively to concerns about police intervention in medical decisions.