The MPD Aims to Shoot The Moon

For all the relief at Friday's City Hall press conference announcing that two Minneapolis Police officers had been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the arrest of Stephen Porter, there was also plenty of tension. Porter, of course, accused two cops, Jeff Jindra and Todd Bebekuhl, of sodomizing him with a toilet plunger during a drug raid on the North Side in October. Then-MPD Chief Robert Olson turned the investigation over to the FBI and the Department of Justice.

The Rev. Ian Bethel spoke as co-chair of the Police-Community Relations Council, a group formed after the justice department brokered a federal mediation agreement between the MPD and various minority community representatives.

"We are not seeing eye to eye in principle on this matter," Bethel said, pointedly decrying the length of time it took for the investigation to wrap up. "The community is not surprised by the outcome." Bethel then went on to emphasize that investigations of brutality are never sustained, whether they're investigated by the justice department, the FBI, or the Hennepin County Sheriff's office.

But Bethel notably did not decry the MPD's internal affairs unit, which likewise has a less-than-stellar reputation for uncovering police wrongdoing. Perhaps this is because an MPD panel, according to Chief William McManus, continues to look into "technical violations" that may have occurred in the Porter arrest. But it's more likely that Bethel doesn't want to burn any bridges, since the MPD is moving toward reviewing most matters internally.

Two weeks ago, after a man died while in the custody of the MPD, McManus called for the investigation to be done by his own department--something he has said will be done more frequently.

Nearly everyone on either side of the Porter case--even Jindra--bemoaned the fact that outside investigations take too long, a point not lost on Jim Michels, an attorney for the police union. "We've always said we don't care who does investigations, whether it's the FBI, Hennepin County, internal affairs, or the man on the moon," Michels insisted. "Everyone's calling for internal investigations now. But it's only a matter of time before people complain that internal investigations are never sustained, and everyone starts calling for outside investigations again."

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