Senate passes bill to rein in police review

  • Article by: RANDY FURST
  • Star Tribune
  • March 30, 2012 - 4:19 PM

A police-backed bill that would weaken the Minneapolis agency that investigates police misconduct won overwhelming approval in the Minnesota Senate on Thursday.

Senators voted 59-5 to restrict the power of the Civilian Review Authority despite the city's opposition.

The bill would prohibit civilian review boards from making "a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer" although a review board could continue to make non-binding recommendations to the police chief.

Currently the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority issues findings of fact, but the chief decides whether to impose discipline. In December, the authority complained that Chief Timothy Dolan rarely imposed discipline when the board recommended it.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, who opposed the bill, said he was a victim of police brutality in the 1980s, before the review authority was created, and said the agency is needed. Dibble told the Senate that it should not take action, because the city is discussing changes in the authority's operations.

Dibble said that while the city opposed the bill, “the city did not lobby hard against it,” but he said he did not know why.

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said while she understood Dibble's frustrations and shared them, the city strongly opposed the bill, and staff testified against it at the Legislature.

Brian Rice, lobbyist for the Minneapolis Police Federation, said the union, which pushed the bill, doesn't want to eliminate the Review Authority, but believes it isn't working.

A companion bill awaits action in the House.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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