Officers frisked a man stopped and searched for drugs on Aug. 18, 1989. MIKE ZERBY/Star Tribune
Minneapolis police officers will soon begin documenting the race and other characteristics of people they detain on suspicion of committing a crime, as well as the reason for the stop, under a new policy aimed at more carefully monitoring police performance.
Deputy chief Medaria Arradondo announced details of the policy changes early this week at the monthly meeting of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, which has pushed for the department to start collecting data on people who are stopped and frisked by officers.
The policy change, Arradondo told the oversight panel, involves so-called Terry stops, named after a 1968 Supreme Court ruling upholding officers’ right to stop-and-frisk a person they “reasonably suspect” of committing a crime. Officers will be required to record data — including the person's age, gender and race, as well as the reason for the stop — on their in-car computers, or CAPRS (Computer Assisted Police Records System), before they can move on to the next call, he said.
The policy, which will go into effect near the end of the year, came after years of clamoring for more transparency by advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which argue that that stop and frisk overwhelmingly targets innocent racial minorities. Both sides agreed that a more clear picture of the problem of racial profiling could not be drawn without more data.
MPD officials insisted that delays in rolling out the new policy stemmed from logistical inefficiencies of its records management system, which were recently overhauled.
“It requires a systematic embed in our system whereby on these detentions or searches, the officer must enter in the subjects race, gender, age, reason for stop and location for stop before they clear that call,” police spokesman Scott Seroka said in an email, adding that the department was working with the city attorney’s office and the police union to implement the policy.
“We did not have the capability to do that before,” police Chief Janeé Harteau said by phone from Washington D.C., where she was attending a conference on gun violence against women and families. “It’s important for us to track that, because people want that information.”
She added: “I don’t doubt for a minute that my folks are doing the right things for the right reasons, with rare exception, but we still need to demonstrate that,” to the public.