Updated: June 23, 2020 06:10 PM
Created: June 23, 2020 03:11 PM
Tuesday, three Minnesota Senate Republicans called for U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
Senators Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and David Senjem, R-Rochester, formally requested, in a letter, that the DOJ open a "practice-or-pattern" investigation into MPD's response to recent unrest in the city.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is also investigating the department.
"The Department of Justice has the resources and experience necessary to conduct a fair, thorough investigation on behalf of the city and our state," said Newman, a retired attorney and Hennepin County Sheriff's deputy. "While the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has been ordered to conduct a similar inquiry, I do not believe that office has the proper resources, staffing, and training necessary for an objective investigation. The commissioner's own comments have effectively disqualified her agency from conducting a meaningful, unbiased investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department."
"I fear for the safety of the citizens of Minneapolis and the millions of people who visit the city year after year. The recent events are a result of decades of tension and dysfunction that has gone unaddressed by the mayor and city council. This community needs a viable path forward," added Ingebrigtsen, a retired Douglas County Sheriff and veteran law enforcement officer. "This will allow federal investigators to follow the evidence—wherever it may lead. They will be able to speak with city and state officials, political interest groups, and the entire police department, including supervisors and rank-and-file officers."
The DOJ is expected to consider the request in the coming weeks.
"While there are many fine and dedicated police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, recent and past events tell us it is time the totality of the city be investigated—from city hall to the police station. Until this is complete, and needed corrections are identified and made, public confidence in the delivery of fair and equitable public safety in Minnesota's mother city will fail to exist," said Senator Senjem.
Their letter can be viewed here.
Two DFL Senators criticized the request by their Republican counterparts. "Today's request of the Department of Justice does nothing but attempt to undermine one of our state agencies, and instead put the investigation into the hands of an administration that has not been impartial on issues of racial justice and police brutality," said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park.
Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis says its part of a pattern of the Republican Senate majority not consulting with Democrats.
"Structural racism is a central issue in need of investigating," Hayden said in a written statement with Latz, "and our colleagues in the Senate Majority would know this if they would make any effort to engage with members of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus on criminal justice and policing reforms."
The Republican letter to the U.S. Justice Department was sent Monday.
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