Six years ago, a settlement ended a lawsuit against a brutal and out-of-control Metro Gang Strike Force, that regularly broke down doors, constitutional rights be damned. Some of the victims received payouts with the $3 million settlement.
But part of the settlement — $1.5 million — was set aside to train police officers how to improve their interactions with communities of color.
More than $200,000 has been spent so far and not a single course has been offered, the Pioneer Press reports today.
“We saw this firestorm coming and it needed to be addressed and rectified within police academies a long time ago,” Randy Hopper, the attorney who filed the original suit, tells the PiPress.
Much of the money has gone to two people hired to develop the training. The first person’s work had to be redone by the second person because, apparently, police don’t have time to physically attend classes.
Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, said his more than 300 members found serious logistical challenges with sending officers to week-long, in-person training. Such a time commitment would be especially hard for smaller departments, he said.
“If we want to reach every police officer out there in the state of Minnesota, online is the way to do it,” Skoogman said. “We are supportive of any training that helps our officers better connect with the communities they serve.”
“Had this training program been implemented in a timely way, the way it should have been, we would have a good five, six years behind us,” Hopper told the paper. “We would have a bright, shining, exemplary model that is more appropriate and sensitive to diverse cultures and populations.”
One of the results of the slow implementation is alleged racial profiling of people of color in traffic stops, according to some of those interviewed in NPR reporter Cheryl Corley’s story this morning.
“We do share concerns about the information and what it represents,” St. Anthony City Manager Mark Casey told Corley after data the city released showed disproportionate traffic stops in the city. “Racial inequality, in terms of arrests, citations and incarceration, is a complex yet urgent challenge for all of us.”
Related: At Castile stop, uneasy questions of race and police training (MPR News).