Community activists said they want to end the Minneapolis board that reviews police conduct after a new analysis by a group critical of law enforcement shows that few officers are ever disciplined.
"Now more than ever, the people of this country, the people of our community are certain that there is a problem with policing and are certain that we want to hold police accountable" said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB).
But an official from the Minneapolis Office of Police Conduct Review said the way the group has framed the statistics is significantly flawed. Michael Browne, director of the conduct review office, said that the conclusions that CUAPB have made are based on misconceptions and are misleading.
From October 2012 through March 2015, 962 complaints with a total of 919 separate allegations were submitted to the office, the group reported. Out of those cases, 392 were dismissed, 216 were submitted to supervisors for coaching, 33 were submitted for mediation and another 202 were given to investigators for at least a preliminary investigation.
Though 36 allegations were found to have merit, only one officer as of yet was disciplined as a result of community complaints, CUAPB said. That officer received two weeks of unpaid suspension and a written reprimand. Another officer received three weeks of unpaid suspension after a complaint filed by a Wisconsin police officer.
CUAPB's Gross said advocates are calling for the Office of Police Conduct Review to be disbanded and replaced by a civilian review body independent of the city's Department of Civil Rights.
"We need to make some changes," said activist Al Flowers, who earlier this month filed a lawsuit against Minneapolis police, alleging that they used excessive force during an arrest at his home.
No officers were disciplined in the case.
"Let's not wait for Ferguson to happen here," said Steve Belton, interim president of the Minneapolis Urban League.
In defense of review board
Browne, the review office's director, paints a different picture.
For one, many open cases have not gone through the grievance process yet when officers have the chance to appeal before discipline is finalized, Browne said.
Also, there were 217 complaints that did not contain allegations against Minneapolis officers but involved officers from other agencies, he said.
Browne said that CUAPB disregarded when more minor cases were forwarded to precinct supervisors for coaching, which could result in officers going through counseling or training, or possibly could result in findings of policy violations.
The process allows for the most serious cases to be investigated sooner.
Browne said police critics should be more concerned about improving the culture of the department, as opposed to just inflicting punishment.
Asked Browne: "How many officers need to be disciplined for them to be happy?"