Gross, who has tracked 20 years of complaints against Minneapolis police, identified the official by crossing the check marking number seen in the video of Floyd’s death against her records. It belonged to Derek Chauvin – a well known name.
“When I saw the name, I said, ‘Oh, him,'” Gross told CNN. “When you start seeing the same officers over and over with multiple complaints, their name is in your brain.”
Only about 1.5% of complaints filed against Minneapolis police have resulted in interruptions, redundancies or demotions between 2013 and 2019, according to a CNN analysis of data from the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review, which is investigating complaints. That office, which is separate from the police department but is working with officers to resolve complaints, received approximately 2,013 complaints against police within its jurisdiction during that time.
If complaints that have gathered prosecution contain, the discipline increases to about 2.6%.
Although there are no national data on the outcome of police complaints filed across the country, previous law enforcement agencies and law enforcement agencies agreed that the proportion of complaints filed with officials who are disciplined in Minneapolis seems low.
Liana Perez, director of the National Association for Civilian Law Enforcement Monitoring operations, an organization whose members include law enforcement agencies, said that percentages vary widely between departments, using different metrics, but that the average “hold rate” for complaints is usually between 5 and 10 %.
Andrew Hawkins, of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, which houses the Bureau of Conduct Review, said that a majority of complaints against officers claim that lower-level violations are not eligible for discipline and that such complaints are instead eligible for coaching, education and mediation. .
Hawkins said that if complaints that result in coaching are included, 18.5% of complaints against Minneapolis police between 2013 and 2019 have ended with some sort of corrective action.
However, coaching is not considered a form of discipline, Hawkins said, and state law prohibits disclosure of specific cases that ended with coaching. From a public perspective, cases that have ended with coaching show “no discipline.” And the city’s current contract with the police union says that investigations into employee behavior that do not lead to discipline “should not be included in the employee’s official personnel document.”
Janee Harteau, who was the city’s police chief from 2012 to 2017, said she is not opposed to coaching, but she said complaints that ended with coaching from staff records hindered her ability to understand if some officials had patterns of misunderstanding.
“I can use the analogy of someone rushing all the time. If you get dragged and don’t speed up your record, the official thinks you’re not rushing all the time, you know, ‘I’ll give you a warning, don’t do it again.’ And then they are pulled over again, and the same thing. But when someone has it on their record, it tells you that hey, this is not your first time you have rushed. “
She described the current discipline system as “ineffective.”
“What we do know is that these systems are not set up to be effective. They are changing very slowly. Leadership is coming and going and unions are stopping,” said Harteau, who described the city’s police union as an “obstacle” to change.
“This mess today”
Police Chief Arradondo said on Wednesday that his department would integrate new computer systems to allow department heads to intervene in early warning signs of errors.
He expressed frustration over the union agreement, where he said his job is “difficult”.
“There is nothing more debilitating for a manager” from an employment perspective than having reason to dismiss an officer for misunderstanding but not being able to because of “a third-party mechanism,” Arradondo said.
In a statement, the union, the Minneapolis Police Department, called on the boss and the city’s mayor to return to contract negotiations. The trade union has always welcomed the opportunity “to set clear expectations, educate employees to these expectations and improve the accountability of both officials and supervisors who do not behave accordingly,” it reads in part.
Activist Michelle Gross said her organization has repeatedly raised concerns with city officials about the handling of complaints and overall accountability, but in her view, mayors, police chiefs and the city council have come and gone without upsetting the underlying causes.
“Since we were so unsuccessful in dealing with police behavior in this community, it literally made it inevitable that someone would die this way,” Gross said.
Concern over the city’s handling of police discipline has led to a long history of intervention.
In 2015, a Department of Justice department requested by Minneapolis police found “serious disciplinary action against officers is rare.” The audit stated that the police department consistently used proactive interventions such as “coaching” in response to complaints, but recommended the department improve its system to identify and correct problematic officials.
R.T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2014, said he had been trying to change the system for several years, but given the current situation, he admits he didn’t get the job done.
He told CNN that he chaired four different police chiefs with four different agendas, fought for more transparency in complaints, pressed to keep police officers from living outside the city and tried to diversify the force.
“If I had a simple answer as to why we haven’t done more with the Minneapolis Police Reform, we wouldn’t be in this mess today,” Rybak said.
Rybak said the department is in need of deep cultural change, and specifically that the agreement between the police department and the police union needs a review.
“I remember being in many discussions about wanting to take tougher discipline and encounter all kinds of contract issues,” said Rybak, who added that the current contract has limited the city’s ability to implement reforms.
Michael White, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University and a former deputy sheriff, said complaints, whether upheld or not, may be an indication of patterns in an officer’s performance.
“The vast majority of complaints will not continue because there is no evidence,” said White, who called the 18 complaints against Chauvin a “red flag.”
White noted that some of the complaints against officials in any city will be frivolous, but that the handling of complaints, frivolous or not, is “critically important” in creating public confidence.
Repeated complaints against officers
Derek Chauvin is not the only officer to be charged after Floyd’s death, which has previously been the subject of a complaint.
Tou Thao, who stood by as Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, has had six complaints filed against him. Five were closed without discipline according to the city’s complainant database.
Jenna Nelson, a nurse and resident of Minneapolis, also filed a complaint against Thao.
She said she called police after an abuse in 2017. Thao responded to the incident, but when explaining what happened, she said Thao was dismissive and suggested she go to family court.
“I just felt he didn’t care and wasn’t willing to do anything about why I called,” Nelson told CNN.
Her complaint against Thao remains open today. A lawyer for Thao refused to comment on the complaints against him.
Phillip Atiba Goff, co-founder and chairman of the Center for Policing Equity and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that effective response to complaints against officials can help reduce misunderstandings, but he claims to focus on complaints against “a few bad apples “lacks the broader issue.
“The problem with policing is not the few who behave outside politics,” Goff said. “It is the many who appear in politics, which means that it is politics that is the problem.”