A local group that focuses on police accountability is suing the city of Minneapolis for failing to turn over disciplinary records for certain police officers, several of whom have since been fired from the department.
In a lawsuit filed on Oct. 15, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) claimed that the city hadn’t completed public records requests for “officer complaint investigation files” lodged in February and August of 2017. As of the suit’s filing, the group had only received a fraction of the requested records, despite numerous follow-up e-mails and several in-person meetings with police Chief Medaria Arradondo, the suit says.
CUAPB member Dave Bicking said the group was forced to take the city to court to gain access to data it has been seeking for more than two years.
“The suit speaks for itself, but it is outrageous the city has made us wait for this data,” said Bicking, a longtime department observer. “They have never claimed that it’s not public data, and yet we just wait and wait, and it’s been over two years.”
At least three of the officers whose files were requested have been fired from the department, and at least one retired.
For years, the group has filed standing data requests for the personnel files of problem officers, including internal affairs reports and other disciplinary write-ups, which it incorporates into its public database of misconduct cases. Under the state Data Practices Act, the group has long argued, such records should be open to the public after the arbitration process has run its course.
Officials last year blamed the growing backlog of unfilled requests on staffing shortages and the growing pains of transitioning to a new records management system.
In a brief statement Friday, deputy Minneapolis city attorney Erik Nilsson said the city “takes its responsibilities under the Data Practices Act seriously and is looking into the allegations.”