Transparency of MPD still lacking

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, a review board housed within the Minneapolis government’s civil rights unit, released a draft report on police documentation of “suspicious person” stops. This report is the most recent in a string of studies about the Minneapolis Police Department released over the last few months.
 
The commission’s latest findings are unfortunate. In nearly 70 percent of suspicious person stops, officers’ descriptions about the incidents didn’t provide reasoning for the stop. Officers did not often use the police department’s established list of criteria for stops. Instead, they offered short, insufficient explanations such as “loitering.”
 
There are many potential problems with lax documentation or unsatisfactory explanations for suspicious person stops: Allowing police officers to stop people without clearly documenting their reasons may easily lead to abuses of power. Police officers could begin stopping people without legitimate cause. 
 
The latest report of police violence — the white officer Michael Slager shooting and killing an unarmed black man during what was a routine traffic stop in South Carolina — further highlights the need for better police conduct both locally and nationally. 
 
Providing better documentation about why someone is stopped on suspicious person grounds is necessary to help improve police conduct and ensure that there is legitimate cause for a stop. The commission’s report offers several recommendations for improving documentation and transparency practices, and we urge the
 
Minneapolis police to implement them as fully and as quickly as possible.