'No place for racism' in Minneapolis Police Department - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

'No place for racism' in Minneapolis Police Department

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

By the time Apple Valley police rolled up last November, the fight outside Bogart's bar was pretty much over. But the bar's grainy video backed up the story of three black men who say they were chased out of the bar by a bunch of white guys, including three Minneapolis police officers.

The men say they were in the bar for just five minutes, when Minneapolis police officer William Woodis started staring them down and talking trash. The men say Woodis was the instigator.

The men say when they left, the white cops and others chased them out, calling one of them a "fat f------ n-----."

"It is shocking and completely unacceptable that there are police officers who use that kind of language," said Ward 13 Councilwoman Betsy Hodges.

At Minneapolis City Hall, you get the impression council members are running out of patience.

"Clearly there's an issue (of racism) in the department; we've always known that," said Ward 5 Councilman Don Samuels.

In June it was two Minneapolis SWAT team members -- Brian Thole and Shawn Powell -- who got into a brawl with some black men in Green Bay, using racial epithets and saying Green Bay was too "n----- friendly."

Adding to the rogues gallery of bad behavior:

- Minneapolis Police Sgt. David Clifford, also from the SWAT team, who assaulted a bar patron in Andover.

- Officer Brad Schnickel, charged with sexually assaulting underage girls.

- Former SWAT member Timothy Carson, who's doing time for robbing banks.

Let's not forget $14 million in Minneapolis police misconduct settlements in the last seven years. The way council members see it, this type of behavior may have always gone on, but now the cops are just getting caught.

"Because of new technology, any interaction, on-duty or off-duty, its recorded, you're on camera all the time," said Ward 4 Councilwoman Barbara Johnson.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said in a statement "the bottom line is that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind within the MPD. It will not be tolerated, period."

Harteau said that in the coming weeks she will be working with the civil rights director to do outreach and restore trust in the community.

As for the officers, two of them pled guilty to disorderly conduct. There is also an on-going internal affairs investigation.

FULL STATEMENT FROM CHIEF HARTEAU


I made it clear when I accepted the role of Police Chief that building a strong culture of respect and community partnership in this department was Priority One.

Like the rest of the community, I was appalled by the Green Bay video footage shown on local news stations. Countless members of this department have also expressed their outrage and anger to me.

While state law does not allow me to comment on the specifics of personnel matters, I know that any police misconduct does major damage to the progress we have made to build public trust. Unfortunately, it also overshadows the great work that is done by the members of this department daily.

The bottom line is that there is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind within the MPD. It will not be tolerated, period. You can trust that I will ensure all incidents are investigated completely and when misconduct is found my response will be decisive.

Working with Velma Korbel, Minneapolis' Civil Rights Director, I will be engaging cultural and faith leaders to come together in the coming weeks and begin a dialogue on how we can move forward to rebuild trust with all Minneapolis communities. In addition, our new Police Conduct Oversight Commission will be appointed and working by September.

My intention is to – again with Director Korbel – utilize that group of community members as a sounding board for ideas about how to build stronger connections and understanding between the MPD and the community."

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