Donald Bellfield, Minneapolis Police Civilian Review Authority chair, says he did not report police chief Tim Dolan's failure to comply with a city ordinance to the City Council's Executive Committee this morning, despite an order to do so from a Hennepin County judge yesterday. The order stipulated that Bellfield had to appear in court at 10:00 am today to give reasoning if he did not make the report, but Bellfield says he did not do that either.
Judge Susan N. Burke's ruling was in response to a petition filed last Friday by a CRA member and a community activist group accusing Dolan of repeatedly ignoring a city ordinance by not issuing discipline in cases sustained by the CRA.
Bellfield says he has not even seen the ruling. "My understanding is that it was delivered to my home, but I never saw it."
The Minneapolis city attorney did show up in court today in Bellfield's stead, he says, to argue that Bellfield already fulfilled his duty by submitting a performance appraisal to city officials -- including the City Council -- late last year. Though it falls short of bluntly accusing Dolan of neglecting a city ordinance, the appraisal does criticize the Chief for not issuing discipline on officer misconduct cases the CRA investigates and sustains.
"As far as I'm concerned, that should satisfy any concerns that this lawsuit might have," says Bellfield. "I'm at a loss as to what the lawsuit is about anyway."
Bellfield also argues that the ordinance does not require Dolan to issue discipline in all cases sustained by the CRA, and so the Chief has not violated it. "It's not only my position, it's what it is," he says "It's completely within the chief's purview, him issuing the discipline to his officers."
Bellfield's take on the ordinance differs starkly from the petition, filed last week by CRA member Dave Bicking and Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Here's the text of the ordinance:
"The Chief's disciplinary decision shall be based on the adjudicated facts as determined by the civilian review authority board, and shall not include a de novo review of the facts by the Minneapolis Police Department's internal affairs unit or any other police officer, unit, or division."
Update (5:30 p.m.):
Minneapolis city attorney Peter Ginder released the following statement via e-mail regarding the petition:
The action that the petitioners asked the Court to require Donald Bellfield to perform is not the proper subject of a writ of mandamus and is also moot. The substance of what the petitioners wanted Bellfield to provide to elected officials has already been done. Bellfield furnished the CRA's performance review of Chief Dolan to all council members and the mayor in December, 2009, and the CRA maintains its performance review on its public website.