The Minneapolis Police Department will no longer handle investigations of police misconduct internally, instead handing cases involving officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents over to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Chief Janee Harteau on Wednesday said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will take over the most serious internal investigations.
"This is about perception and public trust and being in line with SOPs across the state," Harteau said. "Although we didn't necessarily have specific conversations about this, there were concerns by members of this council and members of the community as to why Minneapolis continues to investigate their own critical incidents."
Yet, later on Wednesday night, Gov. Mark Dayton's office put a spike in that plan. In an unusually testy statement, a spokesperson for the governor said Harteau unilaterally announced the arrangement without notifying the public safety commissioner, Dayton, or the governor's staff. In fact, the press secretary said the course of action is one "the governor considers extremely inappropriate."
"Given this turn of events, and until all parties reach agreement on this matter, the arrangement announced by the Minneapolis chief of police is inoperative," the statement read.
In response, Minneapolis Police spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington said Harteau is "perplexed" by Dayton's reaction.
"Arrangements had already been made with the BCA to handle critical incidents beginning Dec. 16, 2012," Barrington said.
Harteau also talked about her Citizens Advisory Council, which released its 2014 action plan to build a strong relationship with the community.
TRANSPARENCY VS. LEAKS
Every one of the past 5 Minneapolis police chiefs has been concerned about leaks, which can sometimes compromise an investigation or be simply embarrassing. Now, Harteau is asking all Minneapolis Police Department personnel to sign a document some have likened to a loyalty oath.
When Harteau announced MPD would no longer investigate its own critical incidents -- such as the police killing Terrance Franklin this summer.
"This is all about public trust," Harteau said. "This is about perception and public trust."
Yet, within the halls of the MPD, people were talking about the special order sent out last week regarding the release of information. The department was told "only authorized personnel are allowed to communicate with non-MPD personnel," like the media.
The penalty for leaking could be discharge, and possibly even prosecution. All MPD employees will be required to sign the order in front of their supervisor.
In the memo, Harteau wrote that leaks have been "detrimental to the department over the years and more recently in major events of the past year." The department did not specify which leaks Harteau was referencing.
Yet, the media learned that Franklin's DNA was found on an officer's submachine gun via a leak, and that he was shot 10 times, months before the official explanation confirmed those facts. The Minneapolis officers who used racial slurs in Green Bay were also identified through a leak. The Fox 9 News investigation into a liquor license investigation that was halted relied on off-the-record sources -- and the chief wasn't happy about that one either.
There can be no doubt that such a requirement could have a chilling effect at City Hall, especially within the department. One officer told Fox 9 Reporter Tom Lyden, '"Lyden, do you think I'm going to talk to you and possibly be fired or face prosecution under Data Practices? Think again."
It is true that Harteau is more than willing to be open with the things she wishes to be open about, as is the case with her council.
"It's about sharing information and understanding what the issues are," she said.
Yet, the portrait begs the question whether that's really transparency or just business as usual. Minneapolis police declined an interview request regarding the special order; however, a spokesperson said the effort is geared to maintain the integrity of active investigations. Even so, police have not offered a single example of how a leak jeopardized an ongoing case.
Training: New recruits and current patrol officers will receive 4 hours of customer service training that focuses on listening, de-escalation and building trust.
Accountability: The focus will be on creating dialog and an opportunity for informative talks by scheduling quarterly meetings with MPD supervisors to visit neighborhood churches of all denominations throughout the city.
Hiring and Recruitment: The MPD will be refreshing the recruitment process and adding a community member to the interview process for new hires.
Community Engagement and Outreach: The focus will be on informing the community on how and why the MPD serves the public. Often times, the public does not understand the process, procedures and policies of the MPD and by explaining how things work, the public will be better informed.