Gov. Mark Dayton signs bill to limit Civilian Review Authority's power
It's official: Come August, the power of the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority will be downgraded.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law Thursday that restricts the civilian oversight board's ability to make a "finding of fact" in police misconduct cases. The CRA will now only be able to make recommendations.
In practice, it's hard to say how much this will impact the CRA's role. The board has accused Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan of undermining it in the past for regularly ignoring its calls for discipline throughout his tenure.
At the Capitol last week, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, argued that the current city ordinance was unfair to officers because the CRA's findings could follow them internally throughout their careers.
"The findings of fact that the Civilian Review Authority makes in the city of Minneapolis does in fact have serious consequences for the officer," said Newman, who introduced the bill after being approached by the Police Federation.
The bill passed the Senate last Thursday, and the House earlier this week.
Not everyone is thrilled about the idea of further limiting the CRA's power, however. Michael Friedman, who served as CRA chair from 2003 to 2005, sent a letter to Dayton earlier this week trying to persuade the governor to veto the bill.
"The crux of the matter is that police chiefs have a strong incentive to overlook employee transgressions so as not to make the information public under Data Practices or available to opposing attorneys (i.e. when their officers are witnesses) in future civil and criminal cases," writes Friedman. "The union wants to leverage this built-in bias for the benefit of their members but to the potential detriment to the public."
The Minneapolis City Council has also been debating replacing the CRA with the "Police Conduct Oversight Commission." This would entail a panel composed of two civilians and two police officers that would make determinations on misconduct cases after an investigation.
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