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Evaluating For A Better Minneapolis Police Chief

by Grace Kelly on April 30, 2012 · 1 comment

The Star Tribune is seriously misleading people when they credit Chief Dolan with the drop in crime rate.

“With little doubt, the key accomplishment of Dolan’s years has been the steady drop in the crime rate.”

Overall societal trends mean falling crime rates all across the US in every area . Many people debate the causes for crime, but there is a consensus that police chief is not even mostly responsible. In fact, if you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it INCREASED.

What would be better measures of a police chiefs performance?

1) Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.

2) Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.

3) Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.

4) Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.
Looking in more detail:

1) Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.

If you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide arrests from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it to be basically the same. On this measure, Minneapolis police performance has not changed.

The calculations, based on MN BCA 2005 and 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: OK

2) Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.

A high clearance rate is good, that means crimes are being solved. Minneapolis has gone down in clearance rates (from 29% to 23%) while the state has improved in clearance rates (46% to 48%). One would actually expect higher clearance rates because the science behind solving crimes is getting better.

Perhaps if we compared Minneapolis to other big cities, Minneapolis would fare better. So let’s compare uniform crime reporting by Minneapolis to the FBI federal reporting for cities over 250,000, for the year 2010.  For murders, Minneapolis reports a 64% clearance rate which is better than a 61% comparable national average. For rapes, Minneapolis reports a 37% clearance rate which is less than a 41% comparable national average. For robbery, Minneapolis reports a 20% clearance rate which is less than a 25% comparable national average. For property crime, Minneapolis reports a 70% clearance rate which way exceeds a 14% comparable national average (maybe “stolen property” and “property crime” are not really comparable). For violent crime as a category, Minneapolis reports a 18% clearance rate which is sadly much less than a 45% comparable national average. Overall, Minneapolis still looks poorer than an average big city.

Selected data from the FBI uniform crime reports:

Selected data from theMN BCA 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: Poorer than Average Big Cities and the State

3) Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.

A high rating in this category is bad. The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project ranks Minneapolis as fourth in misconduct rates for police agencies of a similar size in 2010. Minneapolis is even the ranked higher than the notorious Oakland who almost killed a protestor with its misuse of force. One might argue the details, like maybe the incidents are really not that bad. So here is the listing of what the project collected in just 2010.

Report published in National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project :

1. Minneapolis MN police chief accused of only disciplining 5 of 37 officers guilty of misconduct, & then only w/reprimands:
2. Minneapolis MN PD fires yet another ex-cop community relations consultant after finding this one had felony record:
3. Minneapolis MN police chief criticized for only disciplining 6 of 11 cops w/sustained findings of misconduct [1]
4. Minneapolis MN cop shoots dog in fenced yard next to suspect’s home, witnesses say dog wasn’t barking or threatening him:
5. Minneapolis MN police sgt wrongfully threatens to arrest ccw permit holder after disarming & pointing gun at him 3]6. Minneapolis MN police accused of arresting gun rights activist in retaliation for complaint over month-old incident [3
7. Minneapolis MN controversial cop recently rehired is indicted on federal civil rights charges for kicking teen in head:
8. Minneapolis MN police SRO cop charged w/4 counts criminal sexual conduct involving 2 girls age 12 & one since age 5 [1]
9. Minneapolis MN police lieutenant faces theft charges for withdrawing $1500 from women’s police org for a personal cruise:
10. Minneapolis MN cop w/history of misconduct fired again for lying about alleged brutality on now-disbanded task force [3]
11. Minneapolis MN police school resource officer under investigation for use of force while breaking up teen girl fights:
12. Minneapolis MN police must reveal more info on complaints against cops due to court ruling in appeal filed by CUAPB:
13. Minneapolis MN loses civil suit in $1.8mil federal jury award to family of unarmed man shot to death by 2 cops 3]14. 2 Minneapolis MN cops subject of suit after security cam catches them performing body cavity search at roadside [3
15. Minneapolis, St Paul, & Ramsey County MN sued by "Democracy Now" host and two producers over their arrests at 2008 RNC:
16. Minneapolis MN cop sued by woman claiming she was wrongfully tackled & arrested while cop worked security at apt bldg:
17. 2 Minneapolis MN cops sued by man kicked at videotaped traffic stop a month after he reported brutality he witnessed:
18. Minneapolis MN dashcam video shows cops beat and taser man after lying about stopping him for broken tail light:
19. Minneapolis MN cop pleads to robbery charges in Dakota Co, already sentenced for bank robbery & Hennepin Co robberies [0]
20. Minneapolis MN police chief rehires cop he fired for his role in FBI probed Strike Force scandal, gives him 7mo back pay:
21. Minneapolis MN cop who fataly shot teen in high-profile 2006 case ordered rehired by arbitrator after fired on DV charge:
22. Minneapolis MN police SWAT team officer sentenced to 8 years for armed bank robbery, case pending for 12 other robberies:
23. Minneapolis MN cop sentenced to 10yrs for armed robberies, to serve concurrently w/8yr fed sentence for bank robbery 0]24. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $80k to cop claiming he was removed from Metro Gang Task Force for reporting abuses [0
25. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $165k to 7 "zombies" who were arrested & jailed for 2 days w/o charge during protest [1]
26. Minneapolis MN police settle suit for $235k to man punched, kicked, and tasered by 6 cops on dashcam video:
27. Minneapolis MN police settle brutality suit for $125k to man stomped on and tasered on video after he gave up when shot:
28. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $75k to man shown on dashcam video being tasered in neck while cooperating with police:
29. Minneapolis MN police to settle wrongful arrest lawsuit over 2007 arrest of critical mass cyclist for $70k:
30. Minneapolis MN council committee may recommend against city paying for defense of cop in videotaped taser abuse lawsuit:

Grade: Horrible, only three cities of the same type are worst.

4) Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.

“We have more cops than bad people” is what you hear on the police video during the arrests at the latest Occupy protest. And what did these people do to become “bad” people? They walked illegally in the street. How many of us have walked illegally in the streets of Minneapolis? Are we all “bad” people?

Derryl Jenkins ended up beaten and bloodied after a traffic stop in North Minneapolis almost two years ago, when he peaceably complied with officers. Luckily it was captured by the dash video cam. The City of Minneapolis paid $235,000 in a settlement. Yet what was clear to the public was not so clear to Lt Mike Sauro, 4th Precinct, who still said :

“As a supervisor at the 4th Pct. I am writing this in response to the request that supervisors discuss use of force with officers under their command, I will start this discussion by telling you that I have worked for the MPD for thirty five years and have attended many, many training sessions on force and been involved in many, many use of force incidents…If the suspect does not produce his drivers license when requested he than dictates that force be used, not the officer….In ending I will repeat that the Jenkins’s arrest incident is a classic applied use of force by highly trained professional police officers”

No one has kept score on the numbers or amounts of civil lawsuits, which is too bad. For if we kept score, then maybe we would have more cause to change the Minneapolis police force. Under Tim Dolan, Minneapolis has paid 1.8 million dollars in lawsuits in just a couple of years.

Legendarily, this police force has beaten up the victim (not the attacker) who called for help.

Grade: Horrible, the police consider us all to be bad people.

The Solution

The solution is more than a good police chief, although a good police chief is key. The next police chief should be local. If the police chief’s teenage son could possibly be the person beaten up, then I think policies will change. The next police chief should embody community policing and enforce it in every way. More importantly, I think the public, the Mayor and the city council have to be united in call for change.

Here are some changes that need to happen beyond the police chief:

1) The chief, the mayor and the entire city council needs to testify to get rid of arbitration. The chief should be able to fire cops who kill unarmed people and other violations of the use of force. Once this law changes, multiple people need to be fired.

2) The civil lawsuits should come out of the same budget line as the police salaries.

3) Every Minneapolis police officer needs to re-trained in the safe use of force.

As a last resort, we should all consider disbanding the Minneapolis police force and starting a new organization with a different name with entirely new hires to do policing for Minneapolis. Serious consideration of this option, with the passing of appropriate laws to enable it, may force the Minneapolis police force to actually change.

The real question is – does this matter enough to you to make it an issue in every city election? Only if you demand change, will change happen. Do you have to wait until a family member or friend is a victim of Minneapolis policing before you act or can you act now?  

username April 30, 2012 at 7:11 am

The Minneapolis Police Department has been a cesspool of bad actors for over 40 years. Police Detective Charles Stenvig (Wikipedia him) served several terms as mayor in the ’60s and 70s, and turned Minneapolis into a virtual police state, where brutality and other police misbehavior went completely unpunished.

By 1980, things were so out of control that Democratic Mayor Don Fraser brought in NYC Transit Deputy Chief Tony Bouza, to clean up the mess. The Police Department fought everything Bouza tried, and he departed after 6 years of notoriously unsuccessful attempts at reform.

Since Bouza’s departure, not much has changed. A relatively toothless Civilian Review Authority exists, but it can only issue “findings of fact,” and has no power to impose discipline on police. Even that is too much for the Minneapolis Police Federation, however. In February, the police union convinced friendly Republican legislators to introduce bills that would reduce the review board’s reports from making “findings of fact” to making “recommendations.”  

A new chief from inside the department will doubtless carry the baggage of an ingrown culture. Another outsider, like Bouza, will almost certainly be rejected and ignored. The problem is not at the police chief level. It’s pervasive, and you are correct that fixing it will require a lot more than just hiring the best possible chief.

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