Minneapolis Police Oversight Board not meeting for five months

The Minneapolis City Commission, which provides civilian oversight of police officers, is no longer meeting.

That’s because six of the nine positions on the Police Conduct Oversight Board are vacant, although records show people have applied for services.

Applicants such as Emma Pederson, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Pedersen applied to the committee in September 2021.

“I think my skills are exactly what the PCOC intended,” she said, pointing to her degree and research in policing and public policy. “Like any other system of government, we need these checks and balances, and I think the civil agency is a check on the power of the police department.”

Pederson’s application was one of more than a dozen filed last year, according to records obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. Despite the interest, city leaders have yet to appoint anyone to the PCOC.

“I had an interview for about five to 10 minutes, and then they told me that my application would no longer be considered,” Pederson said.

April was the last time the group met. With only three seats on the committee, there aren’t enough people to meet.

Paul Boseman, an attorney with Community United Against Police Brutality, recently filed a petition in Hennepin County court asking a judge to force the city to fill the vacancy.

“Not only do we want the city appointees to the PCOC, but we also want them to answer why they didn’t,” Boseman said, adding that the explanation was to make the process more transparent.

The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office declined an interview request and would not comment on the lawsuit.

Asked why the position was vacant, a city spokesman said the panel reviewed the applications and recommended the appointment of Mayor Jacob Frey and city council members “identified a PCOC candidate” in the latest batch of applications.

“As the PCOC loses more than 50 percent of its membership for the third year in a row, this will not resolve the group’s quorum,” the statement added.

As calls for accountability and oversight of Minneapolis police grow, Pedersen said she said she believes the commission is a valuable tool.

“Our number one goal is to get them to fill those seats,” she said. “Whether it’s me or anyone else, you know, at this point, it’s important that we get this body up and running again.”

But change may be coming.

Last week, Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins proposed an ordinance change that would “consolidate oversight functions through unified community committees,” according to city council minutes. No details about the changes were immediately provided, and no information was returned to the council chair.

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