The Minneapolis Police Department must revamp its system for identifying and weeding out problem officers if it hopes to regain public confidence, according to a new U.S. Department of Justice report.
A full version of the report, prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, was released Wednesday at a community meeting at police headquarters. The study comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of police conduct, following a series of high-profile police encounters across the country.
“As a progressive leader, I requested this review a couple of years ago with the intention of gaining an independent review with some solid recommendations on how we can move our department and city forward,” said Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who has openly discussed her desire to overhaul the department since becoming chief in 2012. “The OJP assessment validates that we are headed in the right direction and actually ahead of the national curve in many of our recent initiatives and training.”
Harteau pledged to follow all of the recommendations outlined in the report.
The report’s recommendations included overhauling the department’s coaching program for officers accused of minor misconduct, improving cultural sensitivity training, continuing to strengthen community ties by seeking public input, and taking a more data-driven approach to helping supervisors identify problem cops and provide them with additional training.
But several speakers at the meeting said the recommendations didn’t go far enough.
Longtime civil rights activist Spike Moss said federal officials had previously intervened, but had little to show for it. He wondered whether this time would be any different.
“Don’t come in here with a snow job to a snow city,” Moss said.
A group critical of police violence, Communities United Against Police Brutality, said in a statement Wednesday that it had “serious concerns” about the report and the process.
“The report’s credibility is damaged by the secret process by which its authors conducted their study,” the statement read.
Between 2008-2013, 12 officers were fired for misconduct, 64 suspended and 76 received a letter of reprimand, the report found. The vast majority of offending officers received coaching, in which a supervisor takes them aside and points out what they did wrong.
Most complaints against officers involved use of inappropriate language and inappropriate attitudes. Nearly half the time, complaints against officers were dismissed, the data show. In 28 percent of the cases, the officer was sent to coaching.
The full report is below: