Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Police misconduct? Tell somebody who cares.

"Everybody has to be at the table for this to work," Lilligren counters. "There's a perception that the federation has gotten to me because I talked with them on this. But I made no deals with the federation."

(Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the federation, sent a letter to Rybak and the council in May complaining of "cop-bashing" and a "clear anti-police bias" on the part of many task force members.)

Lilligren and Dean Zimmermann say they remain convinced that some good will come out of the CRA reshuffling. Others, like Gross and Edwards, say the Civilian Review Authority is taking a giant step backward at a time when the community needs the forum most.

Civil rights director Owens Hayes, for her part, is overwhelmed. "It's premature to say anything yet," she concedes, saying that her staff is struggling to come up with a plan to meet the 60-day deadline. Even so, Owens Hayes denies that her department has been lax on taking complaints and insists that she wants to establish more visibility and "trust" in civilian review, whatever shape it may take.

Although the final recommendation for CRA calls for public case reviews and the addition of subpoena power to its investigative arsenal, it isn't clear whether the present plan will survive before the city council. To open the reviews, for instance, the state legislature may have to change certain statutes related to the Minnesota Data Practices Act. Other provisions could require changes to the city's charter.

"Nothing will come of this," shrugs Michelle Gross. "It's worse than it was before."

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