We are the three most recent chairs of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission and the chair of the Mayor's Working Group for Public Safety. We disagree with the Editorial Board's opinion on the new proposed ordinance ("New panel would boost MPD oversight," Dec. 3). On the contrary, the new ordinance is a step backward.
The existing police oversight system allowed Derek Chauvin to engage in repeated abuse until he committed murder in broad daylight. That system must be changed, and we support city efforts in that regard.
An effective oversight system must have political independence, access to data and authoritative "teeth." The proposed new panel has none of those things, nor does it correct any of the flaws we identified on the commission.
The new panel is not independent of either the mayor or the Minneapolis Police Department. The mayor retains influential appointment authority, and all new commissioners would serve "at [his] pleasure." The new ordinance erases the current restrictions on MPD officers and residency, so the new panel could include former MPD officers — even ones who do not live in the city.
So-called civilian review panels could be composed entirely of past and present MPD officers. Imagine Bob Kroll reviewing complaints against his former colleagues!
The new ordinance does not provide any more access to data than the current one. Commissioners would only have access to the investigative data for individual complaints they are reviewing, which is the same access current panelists have. The commission as a whole needs access to cumulative data in order to identify trends, policy gaps and opportunities for enhancement.
Derek Chauvin had numerous complaints and confirmed acts of misconduct. Reviewing one or two of the complaints, without knowing about the others, was not enough information to identify him as a problem before he committed murder. The new panel won't be able to identify future Chauvins either.
Finally, the proposed ordinance does not give any "boost" to oversight authority. What can the new panel do besides review isolated cases and hold fewer meetings? Nothing. The new panel should have some teeth, such as having a say in changes to the MPD Policy and Procedure Manual, participating in contract negotiations and developing future systems of oversight.
We agree with the Editorial Board that an "effective civilian review process is needed," but the proposal before the City Council is not that. It is a step backward. The council should vote no or delay the vote until it has time to correct the fatal flaws.
Cynthia Jackson, Abigail Cerra and Jordan Sparks are former chairs of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission. Nekima Levy Armstrong is chair of the Mayor's Working Group for Public Safety.