In May 2009, the Metro Gang Strike Force was shut down after a report from the Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s office found that more than $18,000 in cash and 13 vehicles seized by the unit went missing. Since then, four separate investigations have resulted in charges against only one member for kicking a boy in the head during an arrest.
The latest investigation by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ended last week with when he decided he did not have the evidence to press charges against any former member of the strike force. He said his investigation was hindered by the Strike Force’s poor administrative practices, describing their record keeping as “so bad, it’s sickening.” Being unable to compel testimony, Freeman and his investigators did not interview 29 of 73 former task force employees.
That’s why the local chapters of two civil rights groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, have called on Freeman to open a grand jury investigation in order to press criminal charges. A grand jury could compel testimony from the former members of the unit and give investigators new leads to prosecute cases of misconduct.
Not forcing the former members of the task force to testify gives the appearance of a double standard, by which police are not held accountable for violating the laws they’ve been given the privilege to enforce. We urge Freeman to treat members of this force just like he would treat the dangerous criminals they were once charged with pursing on the public’s dime and trust. That trust will diminish greatly should the former cops not be brought in front of a grand jury.