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ACLU sues St. Paul for withholding public police records

American Civil Liberties Union Photo: KSTP
American Civil Liberties Union

Updated: December 04, 2019 06:10 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Paul over the city's refusal to turn over public police data.

The lawsuit, which was filed in state court Wednesday, claims the St. Paul Police Department has refused to turn over public data about its policing activities in the community — including information about stops, citations, arrests and use of force — to the ACLU since the the summer of 2018.

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"Although Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and SPPD Chief Todd Axtell have publicly committed to government transparency and police accountability, the SPPD has not produced information required by Minnesota government data laws," the lawsuit states.

"A full accounting of officer stops, arrests, and uses of force is critical for the people of Saint Paul to ensure adequate police oversight and accountability," the lawsuit continues. "The data that the SPPD has provided to date is insufficient and does not provide a complete picture of its policing activities in the community. Furthermore, obtaining and analyzing the missing data is all the more critical given that racial disparities appear in the limited public data that the SPPD has made available."

According to the ACLU, the data that St. Paul Police has refused to turn over includes:

  • Data for each adult and juvenile arrest for all felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors. 
  • The identity of police officers associated with citations, arrests, stops or uses of force. 
  • Any information related to investigative stops, Terry stops, stop and talk, and stop and frisk interactions, other than published traffic stop information.
  • Any use-of-force reports documented by police officers.

The St. Paul mayor's office and the police department referred KSTP to a city attorney on the matter, stating:

"The Administration supports the work of the ACLU and has directed the Police Department to provide all available data as soon as possible." 

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