Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission

Sworn in and apprised of their first real work, the members of the new Police Conduct Oversight Commission chose three cases of alleged police misconduct to review in their first ever meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.

The seven-member civilian panel is the latest piece of the city’s new system for civilian oversight of the police department. It was formed after last year’s collapse of the city’s Civilian Police Review Authority, which fell apart amid complaints from its members that their rulings on police misconduct cases were routinely ignored by the police chief.

On Tuesday, the commission members spent two hours getting sworn in, reviewing some rules and a code of ethics and discussing which cases of alleged police misconduct they should review. The members chose three from a list of ten randomly chosen cases. Michael Browne, director of the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review, urged them to limit their review to three cases.

He spent some time after the meeting explaining to a reporter the commission’s work. The commission will not “pick apart” the cases of alleged misconduct or “second guess” whether or not discipline is warranted in each case. That heavy lifting will be done by a Police Conduct Review Panel, which is made up of two civilians and two police officers.

The commission will instead review summaries of each case and look for “broad stroke” policy issues to address in the civilian oversight process, said Browne.

That description and the commission’s relationship with the public came under fire at meetings' end. 

Chuck Turchick, a frequent presence at meetings of the Civilian Police Review Authority, tried to ask the commission how it will do its work if it sees only summaries of each case and not the full details. Turchick was cut off before he finished that sentence by commission chair Andrea Brown, who said he had used up his two minutes. Brown had originally suggested that the commission not hear from the public at all, but relented after her fellow commission members urged that the public be allowed to address the commission.

“This is very symbolic,” said Turchick as he walked back to his seat. “You have about two or three people appear at the meeting to make comments and you limit it to two minutes.”