MPD Chief 'Perplexed' by Gov's Reaction to Internal Affairs Policy Change

Updated: 12/19/2013 7:31 AM By: Stephen Tellier

On Tuesday night, 5 EYEWITNESS News was the first to report that the state will handle future, high-profile internal investigations of the Minneapolis Police Department. But on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton's office said the deal is off.

MPD said this was a joint agreement with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and insisted it is finalized and in effect. But the governor's office plainly and forcefully told 5 EYEWITNESS News there is no agreement.

"This is all about public trust. This is about perception and public trust," Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said Wednesday morning before the governor's office released its statement, explaining the reasoning for her new policy.

The policy was announced in an internal memo on Monday, and effectively outsources the department's most serious internal investigations to the state.

"There was concern by members of this council and members of the community with why Minneapolis continues to investigate their own in critical incidents," Harteau said.

Harteau said the BCA will now handle investigations of Minneapolis officers who seriously injure or kill suspects, like the Terrance Franklin case, and other high-profile cases of officer conduct.

But late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Dayton's office released the following statement: "The Minneapolis Chief of Police unilaterally announced this proposed arrangement without first notifying the Commissioner of Public Safety, Governor Dayton, or the Governor's Chief of Staff - a course of action that the governor considers extremely inappropriate. Given this turn of events, and until all parties reach agreement on this matter, the arrangement announced by the Minneapolis Chief of Police is inoperative." 

Late Wednesday night, an MPD spokesperson said Harteau was "perplexed" by the governor's reaction. She added that MPD and BCA officials have been meeting on this issue since the summer, and that both sides decided to finalize the arrangement and put it into effect at a joint meeting last Friday.

"BCA is a busy organization. They're doing a lot of stuff," said Michael Quinn, a former Minneapolis police officer.

Quinn said the problem could be one of limited resources. How much time are state investigators able or willing to devote to potentially lengthy, costly Minneapolis cases?

"My concern would be, is the BCA going to have a lot of time to do this?" Quinn said.

5 EYEWITNESS News has tried to get more details on how this arrangement would work in practice -- and find out who would foot the bill -- but no one seems to know. And the BCA hasn't responded to our requests for comment or information on this issue since we first contacted them on Tuesday afternoon.

We checked in with the St. Paul Police Department and were told all internal officer conduct cases are handled by the department itself there. However, the BCA does handle internal investigations for many other law enforcement agencies across Minnesota.