Gov. Mark Dayton signs bill to limit Civilian Review Authority's power

Categories: Legislature
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Mark Dayton signed the bill into law Thursday.
It's official: Come August, the power of the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority will be downgraded.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law Thursday that restricts the civilian oversight board's ability to make a "finding of fact" in police misconduct cases. The CRA will now only be able to make recommendations.

In practice, it's hard to say how much this will impact the CRA's role. The board has accused Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan of undermining it in the past for regularly ignoring its calls for discipline throughout his tenure.

At the Capitol last week, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, argued that the current city ordinance was unfair to officers because the CRA's findings could follow them internally throughout their careers.

"The findings of fact that the Civilian Review Authority makes in the city of Minneapolis does in fact have serious consequences for the officer," said Newman, who introduced the bill after being approached by the Police Federation.

The bill passed the Senate last Thursday, and the House earlier this week.

Not everyone is thrilled about the idea of further limiting the CRA's power, however. Michael Friedman, who served as CRA chair from 2003 to 2005, sent a letter to Dayton earlier this week trying to persuade the governor to veto the bill.

"The crux of the matter is that police chiefs have a strong incentive to overlook employee transgressions so as not to make the information public under Data Practices or available to opposing attorneys (i.e. when their officers are witnesses) in future civil and criminal cases," writes Friedman. "The union wants to leverage this built-in bias for the benefit of their members but to the potential detriment to the public."

The Minneapolis City Council has also been debating replacing the CRA with the "Police Conduct Oversight Commission." This would entail a panel composed of two civilians and two police officers that would make determinations on misconduct cases after an investigation.

Previous Coverage:

  • Senate passes bill to limit Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority's power
  • David Bicking asked to resign from Civilian Review Authority
  • Tim Dolan, Minneapolis police chief, ordered to follow statute

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    great, less power to correct the behaviors of a group out of control


    I guess we know who Daytons real masters are now. No matter what the cause, Dayton will always bend to Union pressures even in opposition to traditional 'liberal' stances (such as civilian review of police). Expect to see similar actions when confronted with bills affecting other union issues like teacher senority or mandatory union job provisions attached to public spending bills (such as stadium proposals).


    Except that cop unions don't like other unions, as shown by their widely differing stances on key issues.  Cop and fire unions in Saint Paul backed Lee Helgen's challenger (and sent lots of expensive glossy mailers to virtually every home in his ward during the six months prior to the election), whereas all the other unions backed Helgen. (The shocker in Wisconsin was that the Republicans neglected to buy off the police and fire unions with a legislative carve-out or some other trinket as is their usual practice, which is why those unions actually joined with the other WI unions in opposing the ALEC anti-collective-bargaining bill.)

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