Statement by Michael Campion

  • Article by: Statement by Michael Campion
  • August 20, 2009 - 3:22 PM


Statement by Michael Campion, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety at a news conference Thursday where the investigative report on the Metro Gang Strike Force was presented.

We formed the Metro Gang Strike Force Review Panel with the goal of finding out what went wrong at the Strike Force and how we can prevent something like this from happening again.

The Panel’s report gives us a much better understanding of the scope of problems and several recommendations. I commend Andy Luger and John Egelhoff for their fine work in putting this report together.

That said, I’m disappointed, disturbed and troubled by the findings. I know that the Metro Gang Strike Force has done great work over the years, but I also now know that some officers took part in unethical and highly questionable conduct – conduct that is not consistent with the high standards we expect from law enforcement in Minnesota.

We expect those who enforce the law to abide by the law themselves and follow established police procedures.

So, what’s next?

First, our report has been turned over to the FBI. We will continue to assist them in its investigation.

Second, I want to make it clear that the Department of Public Safety will no longer help fund crime task forces that are set up in the same way the Metro Gang Strike Force was set up.

We will only fund task forces that are tied to and governed by a law enforcement agency; we will only fund task forces that include a prosecutor; we will only fund task forces with a clear mission and direct supervision. And we won’t fund task forces that rely significantly on forfeiture funds for their existence.

Third, DPS staff is currently reviewing Minnesota forfeiture laws and comparing them with statutes in other states and at the federal level. We are examining whether our statutes need to be strengthened. We’ll share our findings with the Legislature perhaps as early as next week when a hearing on the Gang Strike Force is scheduled.

Fourth, we are appointing a Special Master to help administer the funds and property that remain in various strike force related accounts.

We want to make certain the money and property seized from individuals by Strike Force Officers is returned as soon as possible.

And finally, we know the gang problem isn’t going away. I commend the efforts of several local law enforcement agencies for their great work this summer. We had a< relatively small amount of gang related crimes. I know that’s due to the commitment of local law enforcement agencies.

However, as we move forward, I plan to convene a meeting of law enforcement officials and local prosecutors to create a new approach to investigating gangs across jurisdictional lines. The new approach should involve coordinated, information sharing efforts and coordinated investigations and prosecutions.

As I stand here today, we don’t know exactly what the new approach will look like, but we do know what it WON'T look like: The Metro Gang Strike Force.

We will not try and revive the Metro Gang Strike Force – We need a new, more coordinated strategy to combat gang activity in the future.

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