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The Minneapolis police department is conspiring to keep officer misconduct files private, part of a “culture of secrecy” that lets bad cops stay on the force, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday from the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The complaint alleges that the city’s government information hub won’t release records related to the practice of “coaching”, a non-disciplinary process where officer are instructed on training and best practices. The lawsuit contends that the city has been using coaching for a range of violations, including serious ones, and refusing to release them as a means of shielding police from scrutiny, another sign of the “broken relationship between police in Minnesota and the communities they are meant to serve.”
“These actions by the city and MPD further deepen a culture of secrecy and reinforce the mistrust of a public who find it increasingly difficult to believe police will be held responsible,” Isabella Nascimento of the Minnesota ACLU said in a statement.
The legal action also notes that releasing these records could yield more information about the former Minneapolis officers involved in George Floyd’s murder.
Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder in the case in April, had at least 22 complaints against him during his long career on the MPD, all but one of which ended with no discipline, which likely means other incidents were resolved via coaching.
Tou Thao, another officer on the scene last May when Mr Floyd was killed, was written up eight times in his first year alone.
The city and the Minneapolis police did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
Officer accountability is one of the major demands of most everyone in Minneapolis working on police reform.
Mayor Jacob Frey has criticised the arbitration process, a non-elected board where even officers disciplined and fired can be reinstated.
Activists are pushing to restructure the department entirely, handing control over to the city council and offering more civilian oversight.
Among the key demands from community members occupying George Floyd Square, the site where Mr Floyd was murdered, is that officers face more scrutiny for their behaviour, including being forced to carry liability insurance, and ending qualified immunity and the indemnification of officers.