Oppose the Reappointment of Velma Korbel
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Since June of 2010, Velma Korbel has served as the Director of the Civil Rights Department in the city of Minneapolis and has recently been nominated for reappointment under Mayor Jacob Frey. During her tenure as Director, Korbel has done little to serve the interests of the public in safeguarding civilian rights, ensuring police accountability, and securing justice for heinous acts. As her reappointment will soon be voted on by Minneapolis City Council members, it is imperative that her failure as a leader and inability to hold abusive officers accountable not continue a moment further.
As Director of the Civil Rights Department, Korbel oversees the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR). Although progressive and forward-thinking in its naming, the OPCR has failed its most basic obligation: objectively investigating allegations of police misconduct in order to protect the public.
Between October 2012 and December 2017, a total of 1843 civilian complaints were filed against Minneapolis police officers. Under the OPCR, only ten of those 1843 complaints were sustained and resulted in disciplinary actions. That is a 0.55% disciplinary sustaining rate, as opposed to the national average of 7-8%.
And these police infractions are not minute, either: for example, the police officers involved in the slayings of Terrance Franklin, Jamar Clark, and Justine Damond faced a combined total of 28 prior complaints with NO discipline. Needless to say that fewer senseless deaths could have occurred had the OPCR successfully achieved its goals.
Korbel also heads the Civil Rights Commission (CRC), which aims to "promote and protect the civil rights of the citizens of Minneapolis." Under Korbel, the CRC has been unable to keep enough commissioners to even hold meetings, resulting in the cancellation of three of the four scheduled meetings in 2017.
Additionally, Korbel also manages the Police Conduct Oversight Commission (PCOC) and Complaint Investigations Division. Similarly unable to meet its basic primary objective, under Korbel's guidance, the PCOC has failed to meet three times over a span six months. The Complaint Investigations Division, which "investigates complaints of discrimination that have occurred in the City of Minneapolis," offered a unique outlet for individuals who faced discrimination to be heard and those who abused positions of authority to be held accountable. However, once again, with Korbel at the helm, the Complaint Investigations Division has failed its most basic duty: in 2011, the Division reviewed 73 cases; under Korbel's leadership, in 2017, it reviewed two.
It is of the utmost gravity that, when it comes to voting on the reappointment of Velma Korbel as Director of the Civil Rights Department, the City Council Members of the City of Minneapolis listen to their consciences and constituents. Under Velma Korbel, instances of police brutality and acts of discrimination could have been prevented from continuing onward, but were instead deemed permissible and acceptable. This is not a merely a matter of politics, but of life, death, and the violation of basic civil liberties.
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