Online tool offers “unparalleled” access to police conduct data

Updated: October 11, 2016 - 4:39 pm

Office of Police Conduct Review opened the data portal to the public Tuesday

Data on about 1,200 Minneapolis police conduct cases since 2013 — including the 73 investigations of alleged misconduct that resulted in officers being disciplined — are now available in a searchable online database.

The new data portal built by the Office of Police Conduct Review went live Tuesday. Working with the Minneapolis Police Department, OPCR on Tuesday also put its most frequently requested data online, creating a searchable database of “officer profile cards” that list complaints against individual police officers.

OPCR Director Imani Jaafar said the new police conduct data portal offers “unparalleled public access” to data on police conduct cases that is matched by few, if any, jurisdictions in the country. Officer profile cards, for example, were previously only available by making a data request to the city.

“As far as I know, there are a few jurisdictions that will put some information online, but the way this is laid out and the level of detail here is something that is unique in the nation,” Jaafar said.

The OPCR is an independent agency formed in 2012 to investigate police misconduct allegations. It replaced the Police Civilian Review Authority.

Velma Korbel, director of the city’s Office of Civil Rights, described the new online databases as “the fulfillment of a promise that we made to the public in 2012 when we first introduced the office of Police Conduct Review.”

In an email, the civilian chair of the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, Andrea Brown, described the launch of the data portal as “a necessary step in the right direction.”

“It provides the community immediate access to data and statistics that are often at the root of (the public’s) concerns,” Brown wrote. “This is a win for all of us who work hard for accountability in policing. I am excited to see how the PCOC utilizes this new tool.”

The data portal’s seven dashboards allow users to search the number of complaints by quarter and precinct and track how supervisors responded to those complaints. It includes a color-coded map that shows the types of alleged misconduct — including harassment, discrimination and criminal misconduct — and where in the city those complaints originated. The data portal’s users can also search by race, gender and age those who submitted complaints of police misconduct.

The data is updated in biweekly increments. Previously, precincts reported conduct data on a quarterly basis, Jaafar said.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said she has heard “time and again” from Minneapolis residents about the need for increased transparency in how the city deals with citizen complaints against the police.

“By launching these tools today, we as a city are providing more information on demand than ever before, and we are leading the way nationally in such transparency,” Hodges said Tuesday. “The information that will now be easily searchable has been made accessible to the public in the past, and with these tools we are taking this transparency to a new level.”

City Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) said “concerns about police accountability and data and information” were regularly raised to him during his decade on the Council.

“There have been moments in those 10 years that I have been pretty frustrated with what information we’re able to share and what we have available for the general public but also for the Council,” Gordon said.

He said there have been “real strides” toward transparency in recent years, noting the use of police body cameras that began this summer.