A police watchdog group and a member of the Minneapolis Police Civilian Review Authority are accusing Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan of repeatedly ignoring a city ordinance throughout his tenure.
Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities-based activist group, and CRA member Dave Bicking filed a petition in Hennepin County court Friday calling out Dolan for regularly neglecting to honor the CRA's recommendations for discipline against police officers.
"It is important for us to take this action now because Chief Dolan has been nominated for reappointment and we want the city council to have all available facts before considering his nomination," says Communities United President Michelle Gross in a statement.
The Chief's refusal to act on CRA recommendations is a familiar gripe among Dolan's critics. Earlier this year, the CRA gave Dolan a failing grade in its first-ever appraisal of the Chief's performance.
In the past, it's been seen as the Chief's prerogative of whether discipline is actually warranted in cases sent off by the CRA. Communities United and Bicking are arguing that this is an incorrect interpretation of the law. Here's the text from the ordinance in question:
"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."
Dolan has punished officers in only five of 37 cases sustained by the CRA, according to CRA data. If granted, the petition would force Dolan to take disciplinary action in all cases found by the CRA to have merit, unless the Chief has good reasoning not to.
The petition also points the finger at CRA Chair Donald Bellfield for not informing the City Council's Executive Committee (the committee that confirms Dolan's reappointment) of the Chief's failure to comply.
Mayor R.T. Rybak has already backed Dolan for reappointment, pointing foremost to a substantial decrease in violent crime since Dolan's 2006 appointment. The Executive Committee is expected to approve Dolan for a second term this week, which in part explains the timing of the petition.
"It's sort of a confluence of timing," says Gross. "We've tried for more than three months now to get the [CRA] to tell the Executive Committee that Dolan wasn't disciplining under the ordinance."
Gross says she expects to hear a verdict on the petition by tomorrow morning.