Biden DOJ lowers the boom on Minneapolis police

The DOJ’s report is the final nail in the coffin of active policing in the city, virtually guaranteeing a further decline in the morale of officers and in their numbers.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a press conference Friday to announce the results of the DOJ's investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. (Department of Justice)

Minneapolis is in the middle of a crime tsunami. There are over 4193 car thefts year to date in 2023 versus 2190 year to date in 2022 — nearly double! Reported violent crime went up over 40% from 2019 to 2021. Police enforcement on the other hand went dramatically down — from over 36,000 traffic stops in the year before George Floyd’s death to under 17,000 in the last twelve months, a decline of over 54%. Meanwhile, the left has waged an unrelenting war on cops since the death of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. The president, the governor, the mayor, and the City Council have all declared that the police are systemically racist.

In the midst of this crime wave, at a time when the population of the city desperately needs more, not less, policing, the Biden administration lowered the Justice Department boom on the Minneapolis Police Department. The DOJ’s report is the final nail in the coffin of active policing in the city, virtually guaranteeing a further decline in the morale of officers and in their numbers, and continuing high levels of crime, ironically and sadly in those predominantly black neighborhoods where more policing is needed most.

There was never any question that the Justice Department report would find systemic racism in the Minneapolis Police Department. The report was clearly prepared by people who probably don’t know the first thing about what cops have to go through every day, every shift, every incident — the abuse they suffer, the dangers they face in every encounter, and the depravity of many offenders.

Some of the report is comical: there were a total of 19 police shootings over the six and a half years studied, with over 11,000 uses of force. Instead of giving the MPD an award for their remarkable restraint in using firearms — 0.17 percent of the time they use force — they are accused of gross incompetence and abuse of force.

And then there is this: “Minneapolis Police Officers shoved adults and teens.” My gosh, they actually shoved people. And this: “We saw … officers handcuff people even when the person was neither a threat nor a flight risk, which can be humiliating.” We certainly wouldn’t want to humiliate anyone.

The guts of the charge of discrimination is based on the same old faulty failure to impose complete and proper controls on statistical analysis. DOJ first cites the meaningless statistic that blacks are stopped in numbers disproportionate to their share of the population. Of course they are. That is because blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Every study ever conducted (including victim surveys) has shown that blacks are arrested in the same proportion as they offend. National studies show that the stop-rate for blacks is actually lower than their violent crime rate would predict. The Justice report is absolutely void of any analysis: in New York we know that blacks commit 2/3 of all violent crime, and comprise 23% of the population, yet they are only 53% of all stop subjects. Where is the comparable DOJ review of Minneapolis’ data?  It is crime that predicts police activity, not race.

DOJ found that blacks are treated differently than similarly situated whites, controlling for the reason for the stop/use of force, and the “similar behavior” of the offender. I am quite confident that the DOJ statistical work did not control for all relevant factors that went into the police decision-making.

A police officer who makes a stop or uses force has a hundred pieces of information coming at him, some large, some small — number of suspects in the car, how was the car being driven, where was it being driven, where did it come from, criminal record of the offender known to the officer, and most importantly the demeanor and attitude of the offender. For “use of force,” the DOJ controlled for just four things so far as I can tell from the report: was the officer assaulted, did the offender engage in violent or disorderly behavior, did the suspect flee the police, and did the suspect possess a weapon. The closest any of these comes to demeanor is “violent or disorderly behavior,” and there is a lot of conduct, especially verbal abuse of the officer, and just flat out outrageous and bad behavior and attitude, that could lead a cop, a good cop just doing his or her job, to conclude he has to control the situation by “using force.” I don’t see any elaboration on the DOJ’s precise methodology, or any specific description of the controls, or a statement of statistical significance.

Plain and simple, there was no chance, none, that a DOJ study would come to any conclusion other than that the Minneapolis Police Department is guilty of racism. This is a dirty shame, for it means that we will keep rolling down the path of the de-policing of Minneapolis. There will be fewer stops, more retirements and quits, fewer recruits, fewer arrests and prosecutions, and criminals will be further emboldened to thumb their noses at law enforcement. The people who live in the poor neighborhoods of Minneapolis will suffer the most, but no one in greater Minneapolis and St. Paul will be immune from the continuing and expanding crime wave now aided and abetted by the Biden Department of Justice, and by the continuing war on cops being waged by every Democratic politician in our state.


Greg Pulles

Greg Pulles is a lifelong Minnesotan and retired attorney who practiced in Minnesota for over 40 years.