Tim Dolan, Minneapolis police chief, ordered to follow statute

Hennepin County Judge Susan N. Burke ordered Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan to either start listening to the Civilian Review Authority's recommendations to discipline officers or explain himself in court next month.

Police watchdogs Communities United Against Police Brutality and then-CRA member Dave Bicking filed a petition earlier this year that pointed the finger at Dolan for not disciplining officers in cases found to have merit by the CRA, which they argued was a violation of a city statute.

Burke made her ruling last week. Communities United and Bicking are celebrating the decision.

"It means that the judge took our position seriously," says Bicking, "and I think it means there is good evidence that the court thinks Dolan is not following the law."

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal downplays the significance of the order. A statement from Segal:

"The Judge's order is not a decision on the merits in this case but is simply a procedural scheduling order for a hearing where the City Attorney's office will state the City's position on the litigation. Chief Dolan has complied with the City's Civilian Review Authority ordinance in the past and will continue to do so."

Here's text from the statute 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."

The statute doesn't mean that Dolan has to listen to every disciplinary recommendation from the CRA. The question is: How seriously does he have to consider them?

At the time the petition was filed, Dolan had punished five officers in 37 cases sustained by the CRA.

Dolan is due in court June 4 to argue the ruling.

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