Black drivers accounted for nearly 80 percent of police searches and routine traffic stops in predominantly white Minneapolis, according to a public defender’s study using city policy data.
State and federal governments must follow the lead of cities here and abroad to suspend its use and develop a regulatory framework.
Any attempts to amend the Minneapolis City Charter to dismantle its police department will have to wait for 2021. The Minneapolis Charter Commission opted to take 90 days to review a proposed amendment which would have replaced the police department with a city council-overseen Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department, effectively tabling the idea until after the 2020 election. At the Wednesday evening meeting, charter commissioners debated what role they ought to play in considering the amendment, but almost universally decried it as hurried and ill-conceived. Most complaints were procedural, although one commissioner foretold a municipal apocalypse of crime and falling property values should the amendment be allowed to go to a vote.
The city’s police force becomes the second law enforcement agency in Pinellas County to adopt body-worn cameras. The Gulfport Police Department has had a program for about a decade.
Protests over racial inequality are exposing tensions between law enforcement access to digital data and citizen rights against unwarranted searches, which may force courts to grapple with how to protect people’s privacy. Law enforcement use of social media posts, drones, cameras, and cell location data catchers called “dirtboxes” during the civil unrest related to the George Floyd protests may push federal courts to expand Fourth Amendment protections to digital data, like geolocation and real-time mobile information. As police surveillance tactics change, constitutional privacy protections are likely to evolve as well.