BCA to Handle High-Profile MPD Internal Investigations

Updated: 12/18/2013 8:35 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 7:48 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

For the most high-profile cases of possible officer misconduct, Minneapolis police officers will no longer investigate their own. Chief Janeé Harteau sent a memo to all of her officers on Monday, announcing the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will take over the department's most serious internal investigations.

The chief's memo makes it clear -- it's an issue of public trust.

We've seen several high-profile cases of alleged officer misconduct recently. Each was handled by the department's own Internal Affairs unit. But now, certain cases will be outsourced to outside investigators.

"It's a big step. It's a huge step for the chief to do that," said Michael Quinn, a former MPD officer who currently helps train officers across the country.

Quinn was a Minneapolis police officer for 24 years and spent two-and-a-half years in the Internal Affairs unit, which investigated officer conduct in the shooting death of Terrance Franklin in May and two officers involved in an altercation in Green Bay in June who have since been terminated.

"Most cops want to do this job the right way," Quinn said.

But Quinn said MPD's current system of officers investigating fellow officers tends to favor all officers.

"It's a lot of pressure to just back off a little bit," Quinn said. "It fosters a culture that, as long as there's no complaint, you can get away with it."

In an internal memo sent on Monday, Harteau wrote that she has "full confidence" in her department's investigators, but added, "Unfortunately, the general public does not share this view... I will not put involved officers and their families under unwarranted scrutiny simply because we choose to investigate our own."

So now, the BCA will handle certain internal MPD investigations when an officer uses a firearm and a person is injured, when an officer uses force that causes death or great bodily harm, or when the chief deems it necessary.

Harteau wrote the move will help the department, "continue to increase the public trust."

Quinn said she's right, and has high praise for the BCA.

"They're going to be fair, they're going to be objective and they're going to pursue the leads wherever they go. They aren't going to back off because it looks like they might be getting into something they don't want to talk about," Quinn said.

An MPD spokesperson said the new policy officially took effect on Monday.

The memo does note that the police union does not support the move. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out the union president, but never heard back.

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