Minneapolis Mayor Frey, city leaders highlight disciplinary changes coming to police department | KSTP.com

Minneapolis Mayor Frey, city leaders highlight disciplinary changes coming to police department

Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader Photo: City of Minneapolis . Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader

Tommy Wiita
Updated: December 29, 2020 10:12 PM
Created: December 29, 2020 02:46 PM

On Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, City Attorney Jim Rowader and Interim Civil Rights Director Frank Reed joined a call to announce new internal disciplinary processes and measures for the Minneapolis Police Department.

According to the city, these new processes and measures mark a next step in the city's commitment to boosting accountability, enhancing misconduct investigations and ultimately increasing the likelihood of ensuring Arradondo's disciplinary decisions are upheld.

The changes are designed to improve the likelihood of disciplinary decisions being upheld in arbitration with the help of a city attorney embedded early in the investigation. To strengthen the information available to the police chief at the time of disciplinary decisions, an assistant city attorney will provide legal guidance at the time of disciplinary decisions.

The MPD training unit will also work on the front end with the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office to develop training materials and curricula as part of the continued push to align department training with the values of accountability and professionalism in service.

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The following changes were discussed in the call:

  • Embedding a city attorney on the front-end of police misconduct investigations to increase investigation integrity by determining if areas of investigation should be further pursued, or analyzing available evidence relating to allegations of misconduct.
  • Assigning a city attorney to provide legal advice to the police chief at the time of disciplinary decisions, adding capacity and resources to receive up-to-date information and legal counsel.
  • Placing staff from the City Attorney's Office with the MPD training unit to review training materials prior to delivery, helping all training are consistent in fostering a culture of accountability and professionalism.

During the call, Frey said 50% of decisions are changed or overturned by arbitrators over things like investigation missteps. So they want to "take every reason for city hall to overturn disciplinary decisions off the table" in response.

"Good peace officers do not want bad officers on the MPD," Arradondo said. "Trust is a cornerstone of the work we do here at the MPD."

The police chief added that additional resources "will absolutely help to build that trust" with the city that has experienced problems recently. Internal affairs work closely with the city attorney's office and that will continue, but Arradondo noted that MPD hasn't had that connection with the attorney's office at the front end of investigations and that's important going forward.

The ultimate goal in doing this is to ensure due process and make sure investigations are being done correctly and thoroughly.

Rowader said the goal is "to be proactive as possible" and use attorneys' knowledge to help Arradondo and MPD with investigations and disciplinary decisions.

"If misconduct goes unchecked, that erodes trust with those institutions," Rowader said, noting that the changes are good for "good" officers because it will strengthen trust with them and help hold everyone accountable.

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Reed said, "there's always room to improve, to do the work better, to be more efficient, and that has forever been our rallying cry and will continue to be moving on."

Tracey Fussy, assistant city attorney, says Arradondo has been very supportive of these changes.

"I think this is an opportunity to create meaningful and swift impact," she said. "With [our] expertise, our hope is to offer support."

Regarding a question from KSTP investigative reporter Joe Augustine, citing a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation that found a pattern of force used by MPD and how many of those officers still serving at the department, Rowader said it's not a good thing and they need officers to be truthful. He mentioned that being truthful will be heavily stressed upon going forward.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis issued the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

"With historically high crime occurring in Minneapolis, it's a shame that the priorities of city leaders are so out of focus. The Federation welcomes the changes they make in their investigative process. We appreciate thorough fact finding. We just wish the Chief would discuss these things directly with us, rather than finding out from the press. He has skipped Labor/Management meetings most of the year."

Watch the full stream at the top of this page or below, through KSTP's Facebook page.

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