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Practice Of 'Coaching' Minneapolis Police Officers Questioned By Conduct Oversight Commission

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO -- There is debate over if the public is getting a full picture of disciplinary action within the Minneapolis Police Department.

Commissioner Abigail Cerra, head of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission, says she's found an anomaly where some action has been classified as something called "coaching" instead of "discipline."

"So all of these coachings have been designated as private data, and the public has not been able to view them," Cerra said.

Data provided to WCCO shows from September of 2013 through 2019, there were more than 2,000 complaints against officers. Thirty-nine resulted in disciplinary action. There were 334 coaching decisions over that same time period. Another 99 were in the grievance process or pending discipline decision

The Minneapolis Police Officers Federation told WCCO complaints can't come from outside the department and result in coaching. And coaching is non-disciplinary, reserved for the most minor infractions.

Examples given were grammatical errors in a written report, being late for roll call and missing part of the uniform.

READ MORE: Minneapolis Police Data Shows Racial Disparities In Use-Of-Force Cases

Minneapolis police tell WCCO the purpose of coaching is to correct behavior in a non-disciplinary manner, and is non-grievable.

An invested community member said he doesn't think the department is trying to hide anything, but says it's important the issue is sorted out.

"There's a lot of cases that the public finds out nothing about," he said. "But in the future, this has got to be resolved."

In the end, Commissioner Cerra says discipline needs to be better defined.

"If we don't have transparency, we don't have oversight, and that's really the beginning and end of why it's important," Cerra said.

The police oversight subcommittee sent the topic Tuesday evening to the full committee to look at.

A city representative gave this statement to WCCO:

Coaching offers organizations, including the MPD, a valuable tool for swiftly addressing everyday decisions and behavior, like verbal tone and language. However, disciplinary action is reserved for repeated or more serious instances of misconduct, including improper or excessive use of force. While City leadership is collectively committed to instilling greater accountability and transparency in the department, any proposal related to personnel discipline must be thoroughly vetted and discussed. That's precisely what our team will be doing if the PCOC chooses to advance the recommendation.

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