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Minneapolis poised to revamp civilian police oversight

The city council's public safety committee approved a new plan that is met with criticism from activists

MINNEAPOLIS — Civilian oversight of the Minneapolis police department could be overhauled if a new proposal passes next week.

City officials said it will be more effective, but critics believe there won't be enough accountability.

A Minneapolis City Council committee heard public comment on the issue Tuesday, which has been a point of contention in Minneapolis for years.

The city of Minneapolis currently has two civilian groups -- one private and one public -- that are tasked with review and oversight of the police department.

But the a Department of Human Rights report this year called the current layout ineffective.

A new proposal, if passed, would merge those two bodies into one -- a Community Commission on Police Oversight.

"The name was chosen deliberately. Community is the first word for a reason," said Andrew Hawkins of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

City officials say it will streamline the process of handling civilian complaints against MPD officers -- and involve and inform the public more on that process.

"Do you think that this new approach holds problem officers accountable?" asked City Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw.

"I think its a step in the right direction," Hawkins said.

But several residents and activists in attendance strongly disagree.

"We don't want the police investigating the police to find themselves innocent and unaccountable," said one resident who spoke at the public hearing.

Those opposed don't like that the commission's panel reviewing complaints would still include two officers along with civilians.

Another issue they brought up was the number of commission members who would be appointed by the mayor.

And some suggested that the commission members should be elected by voters.

"So i urge you, delay this vote, re-write it, get community input," another resident said.

But the city council public safety committee voted to approve the ordinance and move it on to the full city council.

That vote is scheduled for Dec. 8.

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