Police Conduct Oversight Commission releases report highlighting numerous failures in complaint process
St. Paul, Minn – The Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission released a report this week entitled "The Complaint Filing Experience". The PCOC and the Office of Police Conduct Review spent months evaluating and testing the complaint process in Minneapolis after receiving numerous complaints that it was flawed. Upon review of the complaint filing experience the PCOC found numerous deficiencies and made a number of recommendations to fix the problems.
As part of the evaluation process the OPCR sent testers to each precinct to file complaints. Policy dictates that individuals are allowed to file complaints in-person at precincts. In 13 of the 15 attempts, complainants were not offered the opportunity to file a complaint at the precinct. The report also notes that officers failed to mention the OPCR as a possible avenue for a complaint and testers were often told that no paper forms were available. In several cases, testers were also told they had to go to another precinct to file a complaint, despite policy that dictates complaints should be accepted at any precinct regardless of where the incident occurred.
The full report can be found here.
The PCOC will discuss the report at their meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m. in Room 241 of Minneapolis City Hall.
In light of the report, the following statement can be attributed to Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is incredibly disheartened to learn that the Minneapolis Police Department has made it very difficult to file in-person complaints at precincts. According to the PCOC, individuals trying to file an in-person complaint were rebuffed 80% of the time.
It is critical for a healthy relationship between the community and police that filing a complaint be accessible and easy. If individuals are forced to jump through hoops to even file a complaint that creates one more level of resentment against the police and one less chance that an officer is held accountable for any misbehavior. In order to have any chance of improving community and police relationships, community members must feel like officers are held accountable when they have wronged individuals.
The ACLU-MN routinely refers individuals to file complaints against officers when we hear about misconduct, and it is very upsetting that most precincts have gone out of their way to make it challenging.
We applaud the PCOC for conducting this research and issuing this important report. We hope that the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis follow the recommendations laid out in the report and work quickly to ensure filing a complaint becomes more accessible and that there are checks put into place to ensure that all rules are followed in the future.