Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Saturday, the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation issued a statement about two cases involving off-duty officers accused of racial bias.
The Federation says it concurs with Chief Janee Harteau’s statement that “racism and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated within the MPD.”
They said they want exactly what Chief Harteau wants: the community’s trust that officers will impartially and objectively protect the public.
The union wants a seat at the table when the powers that be meet to discuss how to deal with these accusations of misconduct.
Five MPD officers are under Internal Affairs investigations for two separate off-duty incidents, one in Apple Valley and another in Green Bay. Both involved accusations of racial bias, and both were caught on tape for all to see.
Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels (Ward 5) says he hopes people see the mood and tone from the leadership of the city on this issue.
“They know that the federation, the mayor, the head of the public safety committee, the police chief and the entire community will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” Samuels said. “I’m glad we are beginning to react with one voice.”
Both Chief Harteau and the Police Federation agree that the behavior in question is unacceptable, but Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality says Harteau’s department must walk the walk.
“You have to have rules, policies and procedures in place that ensure that officers that step out of line are disciplined and dealt with appropriately,” Gross said.
She says there isn’t a culture of accountability within the MPD.
“Even the officers that don’t engage in that conduct don’t want to come forward and talk about this conduct,” she said.
Gross is hoping for change, and a new culture in the department that does not tolerate any form of discrimination.
Chief Harteau says she will reach out to the city’s cultural, faith-based community leaders and the soon-to-be-formed Police Misconduct Oversight Commission for help in rebuilding the community trust.
The police union says it wants to be part of that dialogue.
Chief Harteau will address questions about the incidents Monday. She has said that her response will be “decisive” if misconduct is found.