|Written by Jamie Keith,
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The Committee For Professional
Policing is working to pass an amendment to the Minneapolis City
Charter, which would be voted on as a ballot issue in the November
2014 election. This amendment would require police officers to carry
personal liability insurance, much like the malpractice insurance
doctors are required to carry.
CFPP officially formed as a
political committee in the spring of 2013. The original idea for the
liability insurance model came from Communities United Against Police
Brutality, an all-volunteer organization founded in 2000 which
focuses on advocacy, education and political activity to end police
brutality in Minneapolis and the surrounding metro areas.
According to statistics gathered by
CFPP, the City and its taxpayers have spent $20 million on police
misconduct payouts since 2006.
“Right now, the city covers pretty
much all acts of misconduct by police officers, but it's not actually
required to do so,” explained Dave Bicking, the Chair of CFPP.
This means that officers are covered
only arbitrarily by the city's current provisions.
“This is not an anti-cop deal by
any means,” said Michelle Gross, President of CUAPB. “It is a way
to get rid of the bad officers and keep and protect the good ones.”
According to Bicking, the impetus
for the charter amendment comes from a long history of issues with
holding police officers accountable for misconduct.
“We've been frustrated with the
fact that the city politicians, the police chief and the union really
have no interest in disciplining officers or holding them to account
for their conduct,” Bicking said. “All that's been effective is
lawsuits. While those are important to get some kind of compensation
to the victims, they do very little to solve the underlying problem
of preventing future problems, because the payments are made by the
Under the charter amendment, the
city would pay the base insurance rate covering officers, while any
insurance premiums brought on by “risky” conduct would be covered
by the officers themselves.
Bicking likened the proposal to car
“If you're a really, really bad
driver, it becomes too expensive to drive or even own a car anymore,”
said Bicking. “Similarly, some officers would become uninsurable,
and that would finally get those officers off the force.”
Such police misconduct is difficult
to track using data, since no centralized agency is responsible for
“Statistics about police brutality
not collected by the police,” said Gross “No cities keep this
data in any real way. The FBI is mandated to keep this data, but no
one really does it. So it's this big problem that everyone knows
about, but nobody wants to quantify.”
However, CUAPB tracks data that
comes through their 24 hour hotline. From 2001-2006, CUAPB recorded
464 cases for analysis. Of these cases, 92 percent cited an
infringement of First Amendment rights, 56.6 percent cited justice
system misuse, and 56 percent cited unjustified force. Of these
hotline callers, 67 percent were African American and 16 percent were
other or unspecified.
Given the general dearth of
statistics available, it is difficult to pin down exactly how these
policies are affecting the Native American community in Minneapolis.
However, according to a national study conducted by the United States
Commission on Civil Rights, the Native American incarceration rate is
38 percent higher than the national average. The study cited racial
profiling, lack of access to legal counsel and disproportionate
police contact as the underlying causes of this disparity.
Both CUAPB and CFPP would like to do
more to engage volunteers and activists from the Native community. In
order to make the charter amendment a ballot issue in the 2014
election, CFPP will need to gather 15,000 petition signatures by May
of 2014. To get involved as a volunteer to collect signatures, help
with fundraising or do media and publicity work, please contact CFPP
organizers at 612-715-8784 or on their Web site at