‘Fundamentally Flawed’: DOJ blasts MPD’s discipline system
The Minneapolis Police Department is “fundamentally flawed” when it comes to disciplining its police officers, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Federal investigators said that MPD “failed to find, address, and prevent officer misconduct.”
The findings on the lack of accountability are part of a 100-page scathing report that the DOJ released last week, and matches a pattern that 5 INVESTIGATES first revealed shortly after the murder of George Floyd.
Investigators described MPD’s discipline system as ripe with “inexplicable delays” where complaints are often “overlooked or excused.”
“We found that the Minneapolis Police Department routinely uses excessive force, often when no force is necessary,” said United States Attorney General Merrick Garland at a Friday news conference in Minneapolis.
After the murder of George Floyd, 5 INVESTIGATES rolled out a series of reports called “Justifying the Force,” which revealed a pattern of officers who received little discipline after falsifying police reports, omitting key details or failing to report their use of force altogether.
The DOJ is now corroborating that reporting.
Rachel Moran, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas who has studied the discipline system at police departments in Minneapolis and around the country, said the DOJ’s findings were not surprising.
“I hope it’s perceived as validating to the people who have been raising their voices about these issues for years,” she said. “I hope those people get some sense of, yes, someone has listened and agreed with our concerns.”
The DOJ’s report blames the lack of accountability on a “needlessly complex” discipline system that wrongfully dismisses complaints and on a department that does not adequately supervise its officers.
According to the report, MPD’s entire system allowed “problematic officers to continue committing misconduct for years.”
“When I read the report, and I read the examples they provide, it speaks of an oversight system that doesn’t expect people to look into it,” Moran said. “There are just obvious errors, there’s failure to investigate claims that actually had evidence to support them.”
The Minneapolis Police Federation forcefully pushed back against much of the DOJ’s report, but said that the remedial measures offered by the DOJ mirror many of the recommendations the union has made over the years.
The head of the union, Sherral Schmidt, did not respond to requests for an interview.