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MN Impact: Research Helps Lead to Policy Change for St. Paul’s PCIARC

October 8, 2018

Objective

Researchers will provide insights to local councils and the public related to restorative justice and peacekeeping that will help lead to public action and policy changes. (Expressed as the number of policy changes implemented).

Issue

For effective social change to take place, community leaders need to be open to hearing from a combination of stakeholders and community members affected by the current, and potential, policies.

What has been done

The Center for Restorative Justice and Peacekeeping (CRP) at the University of Minnesota conducted an audit in 2015 of the St. Paul Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC).

The audit included interviews with 23 key stakeholders in the commission's process and reviewing 40 commission memos, which included 310 cases of complaints about police conduct to determine what the commission did once a complaint and the investigation files were given to them. They also looked at the makeup of similar commissions throughout the U.S.

Results

Their audit identified 18 recommended changes to commission operations, the most controversial being that police officers should no longer serve as voting members of the commission. While not seen at the time as a politically realistic suggestion, city officials agreed to allow the CRP to facilitate three listening sessions to gather public input.

In December 2016, the St. Paul City Council voted 5 to 2 to remove police officers from the city's PCIARC after a group of 35 took part in a public hearing on the proposed changes. These results highlight how partnerships with academia and the community can lead to effective social change.