Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.

•••

The Minneapolis Police Department's long history of troubled relations with communities it's supposed to serve demonstrates the need for significant, meaningful input from citizens about police conduct. The city needs a civilian review process that the public can trust.

And most recently, input about MPD officer conduct has been on hold. The existing system has done nothing since March 2022, when the chair and other members quit — leaving the body without enough members to make decisions.

Now city officials are considering a new plan for civilian police review that isn't perfect but would move things in the right direction.

The proposed ordinance would replace the current oversight structure that includes the Office of Police Conduct Review and the Police Conduct Oversight Commission. Instead of operating under the two groups, which caused confusion in the past, the two bodies would merge into the Community Commission on Police Oversight (CCPO). It would consist of 15 civilian members: eight appointed by the City Council and seven by the mayor.

Under the plan, all commission members could participate in smaller review panels, consisting of three civilians and two officers, to consider citizen complaints against police and make recommendations about police policies and procedures. The panels would make recommendations to the police chief, who would decide whether disciplinary action should be taken against officers.

During a presentation to a City Council committee this week, just over a dozen people testified against the plan, arguing that it doesn't go far enough to give citizens power. Members of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) argued for an all-civilian group without officer participation. And they suggested that the civilian review group be elected by the public, not appointed by city officials.

Responding to some of those concerns, Council Vice President Linea Palmisano proposed several changes that were adopted. One changed the review panels from four to five members, with three civilians and two police personnel — replacing the current structure of two civilians and two officers.

The original plan had the mayor appointing two members, the council appointing 13, and the mayor choosing the chair. But under Palmisano's amendment, the mayor will appoint seven members and the council eight, then the commissioners will choose their chair.

Though the activists suggest it, a civilian commission elected by popular vote is a bad idea. As Palmisano told an editorial writer, adding more elected officials wouldn't necessarily mean "more accountability." She said the new plan better sets up the commission for success by increasing the budget for civilian review, shifting the panel's balance toward citizens and providing limited compensation for the volunteer members. Under the proposal, members would receive $50 for each meeting they attend.

Palmisano also noted that the new commission would gain new access to police misconduct investigative files, body-camera footage and other necessary information.

Given the MPD's long history of problems with community relations, use of excessive force and payouts for police misconduct, an effective civilian review process is needed. The revised and amended ordinance is a step toward that goal and is expected to be voted on by the full council on Dec. 8. It merits approval.