As many people in the community are aware, Minneapolis police officers harass, beat, and even kill community members on a regular basis with impunity. The Star Tribune recently reported that out of 437 complaints against police officers in a year-long period, not one of the officers implicated had been punished. It is egregious enough that Minneapolitans, especially people of color, the homeless, and the poor, are being routinely harassed and beaten; but to make matters worse, when an officer is successfully sued for police brutality, it’s the taxpayers that pay for it. That’s right. When an officer is sued – sometimes in excess of $1 million in one case – the city automatically pays for these lawsuits out of the city’s general fund. This has amounted to $20 million of wasted taxpayer money in the past 7 years, in Minneapolis alone.
In response to these myriad injustices, members of the Minneapolis group Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) banded together to form the Committee for Professional Policing (CfPP). CfPP’s first big undertaking is a charter amendment campaign to require police officers in Minneapolis to carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance. As previously mentioned, Minneapolis is currently self-indemnified, meaning that when an officer is successfully sued for brutality, the city automatically pays for the lawsuit and all court fees from the general fund.
By requiring officers to carry professional liability insurance, the city will benefit from a risk management mechanism against brutality. In other words, an officer will face increased premiums on his/her insurance after each lawsuit. This will act as a deterrent to brutality, since the police will finally be held directly responsible. Moreover, after several repeat offenses, an officer will find him/herself uninsurable and no longer able to serve in Minneapolis. Under this model, the survivors and family members of victims of police brutality will still receive the compensation they deserve, while officers are being directly punished.
The wording of this charter amendment proposal was scrupulously crafted with the help of insurance agents and lawyers, so as to ensure its viability and compliance with state and federal laws. Furthermore, the wording of the amendment proposal would give the city the option to cover the base premium for each officer. This would ensure that honest cops are not punished for no reason.
But this isn’t going to happen just on its own; WE NEED YOUR HELP. In order to get this amendment proposal placed on the ballot for November, 2014, CfPP needs to collect a minimum of 10,000 signatures from registered Minneapolis voters. Since these signatures will need to be submitted directly to the City Clerk, they may not be collected electronically. Additionally, the city will conduct quality checks on the signatures and dismiss those that are not legible or fully completed. To compensate for this, CfPP’s goal is to collect 15,000 signatures.
Our goal is to have the signatures collected by the middle of May. Although they are due in the first week of July, submitting them early will give us time for legal wrangling with the city. Also, it will give us more time to conduct an extensive Get Out the Vote effort throughout the summer and leading up to the November elections.
Committee for Professional Policing’s office is located at 4200 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. We hold office hours every Monday and Wednesday, 1:30-5:30pm, and every Thursday, 5-8pm. Call or email Eric at 612-715-8784 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting so that you can sign the petition, get trained on messaging and petitioning, and help collect these signatures! Thank you!