CCC Letter Mayor Hodges and Mpls City Council

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  • COALITION FOR CRITICAL CHANGE, Twin Cities

    January 5, 2015

    To: Mayor Betsy Hodges and members of the Minneapolis City Council

    Re: Follow-up to Open Letters on Minneapolis Police Department Policies and Practices

    This is a follow-up to the Open Letter of September 2014, (signed by hundreds of concerned

    community members, including many involved in the Coalition for Critical Change), and the

    Mayors Response of October 2014. Both documents are attached as Appendices to this letter.

    While we appreciate the Mayors response to the concerns noted in the original letter, the Coalition for Critical Change is requesting additional action and follow-up on the initial requests.

    In light of recent events and budget decisions, this letter is addressed to members of both the City

    Council and the Mayor, as the following requests will require joint action.

    Many of these items can be immediately enacted; others require long term planning and a

    movement towards a vision of public safety that does not rely on more policing, but, instead, on

    empowered communities. All speak to the stated city goals of transparency and accountability in

    police - community relations, and to the goals of equity as well. The over-policing of our

    communities of color is a significant contributor to unequitable outcomes in multiple social

    arenas, including education and employment. This foundational disparity must be addressed for

    meaningful - and long overdue - progress to be made with regard to our abysmal national ranking

    on matters of racial disparity.

    Our original requests are re-iterated below along with our additional calls for action:

    1) Quarterly Reports

    We would request quarterly progress reports to the community on issues such as

    increasing diversity within MPD, the rates of low-level arrests, the number and types of

    police misconduct complaints, and the number of police misconduct lawsuits being settled

    along with dollar amounts.

    We are reiterating our request for quarterly public reports. These reports and the related data

    should collected and publically disseminated as part of the regular business of a transparent and

    accountable Police Department. The availability of this data should not be contingent upon the

    receipt of organizational or individual data requests.

    The reports should detail:

    progress towards increasing diversity within MPD

    the number and types of police misconduct complaints

    number of police misconduct lawsuits being settled, including with dollar amounts

  • the rates, locations and demographics of low-level arrests

    Since our original letter, the issue of extreme racial disparity in low-level arrests has been high-

    lighted in an ACLU Report on Minnesota. (See Appendices). The data revealed that between

    2004 and 2012, an African American individual was, on average:

    11.5 times more likely to be arrested than a white individual for marijuana possession;

    8.86 times more likely to be arrested than a white individual for disorderly conduct;

    7.54 times more likely to be arrested than a white individual for vagrancy; and

    16.39 times more likely to be arrested than a white juvenile for curfew/loitering

    That these results are unacceptable is an extreme under-statement. While we appreciate the City

    Councils directive to the MPD with respect to documenting arrest data for 2010-14, past disparities are already well documented and have been for more than a decade. What is immediately needed is the collection and evaluation of current arrest data and police practices.

    Consequently, we are further requesting the following information and attendant action:

    Additional quarterly reporting of data on low-level arrests including arrests by race/ethnicity, gender, age, geographical areas and the number of arrests of

    juveniles that occurred on school property. When possible, and in conjunction with

    the Hennepin County Courts, costs and court outcomes of all low level arrests

    should be accounted for.

    Public transparency as to MPD policies and directives with regard to low-level arrests. If the MPD is pursuing a policy of attention to low-level arrests, (be it called

    broken windows, public order policing, community-oriented policing, or any

    other euphemism), this should be clear to the public, and open to public comment,

    debate, and revision/cessation.

    A public clarification and review of MPD practices with respect to the enforcement of the Minneapolis City Ordinance on Loitering (385.50. - Loitering.) with attention

    to the state guidelines on Racial Profiling (Minnesota Statutes 626.8471).

    A repeal of the Minneapolis City Ordinance on Lurking (385.80. - Lurking.).

    2) Body Cameras

    We would request an opportunity for community input on policies surrounding the use of

    body cameras by MPD. Although many of us support the use of body cameras, we are well

    aware of the fact that many jurisdictions that use body cameras continue to face allegations

    of police misconduct and brutality due to cameras being turned off during optimal times,

    storage of data, and interpretation of said data.

    The issue of community input on body camera policy is even more urgent in light of the fact that

    the City of Minneapolis has now approved more than $1 million budget dollars for the

    implementation of a body camera program. It is more urgent too, in light of the NYC non-

    indictment of Daniel Pantaleo for the videotaped killing of Eric Garner via a choke-hold that had

    been banned for more than 20 years. This makes clear, again, that the existence of body camera

  • footage is no guarantee that police will be held accountable in use of force cases. So too does the

    recent dispute, closer to home in Duluth, over the public release of body camera footage of an

    officer involved shooting.

    In light of this, we are again requesting:

    Publication of results of the body camera pilot study as soon as possible, with the opportunity for public comment and input.

    The immediate development, with community input and Department of Justice guidance, of a clear set of procedural guidelines for the use of cameras as well as the

    collection and storage of recorded data. Guidelines should also clarify the intended

    use of body cameras to document citizen-police encounters as opposed to more

    generalized surveillance of public gatherings or protests which are protected by the

    First Amendment.

    To the extent that body cameras collect evidence that may be used by citizens in cases against the police, this data and the integrity of said data should be insured by

    its storage with an independent third party, potentially a reconstituted, elected and

    independent Civilian Review Board.

    3) Structure/Culture of MPD

    We would ask that drastic steps be taken to address the culture within MPD that leads to

    negative police/community relations.

    While we appreciate the steps being taken to increase officer diversity and enhance training,

    issues within the Department are systemic in nature, not just the result of a few bad apples. Community policing does not mean policing communities. It means changing the systemic

    relationship between police and community, so that the community knows their needs are

    tantamount and will be protected and served.

    This requires additional steps some of which have been outlined above and so we also request:

    Expanded police officer training to teach community policing principles and restorative justice techniques. This should be required of all officers, not just

    those recruited as part of the CSO Program.

    Use of Restorative Justice to police adults as the Department of Justice proposes.

    Reduce policing of and arrests for low-level offenses.

    Develop a clear MPD position prohibiting racial profiling that addresses both individual officer-citizen encounters and departmental patrol patterns that rely on

    geography as a proxy for race and class

    Reinstate the Civilian Review Board, this time as an independent elected body that represents all citizens and is imbued with the full legal powers required to

    investigate.

    Develop Departmental expectations and employment guidelines that police live in the communities they serve.

  • Demilitarize. Opt out of the acquisition of military equipment via the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997

    Begin the budgetary process of divestment from the police and reinvestment in education, housing, youth services and community programs, employment/job

    opportunities, health/wellness services, and community initiatives that center

    transformative justice.

    Thank you for your consideration. We will be publically releasing this letter, and look forward to

    your response. We would ask that you set aside part of the January 21 Public Safety, Civil Rights

    and Emergency Management committee meeting agenda to discuss this with members of the

    CCC. We will also extending an invitation soon for you to attend a community forum where you

    and the public may further engage this discussion.

    For questions regarding these requests, please contact, on behalf of the Coalition for Critical

    Change:

    Nancy A. Heitzeg, Ph.D. (612) 991- 0569 naheitzeg@stkate.edu

    Nekima Levy-Pounds, Esq. (612) 210-3734 nvlevypounds@stthomas.edu

    Rose M. Brewer, Ph.D. brewe001@umn.edu

    Anne Winkler-Morey, Ph.D. winkl002@umn.edu