Vast majority of complaints against St. Cloud police dismissed by citizen review board

The number of complaints filed against the St. Cloud Police Department more than doubled last year. Yet the overwhelming majority of the 25 complaints involving alleged officer misconduct — all but two — were dismissed following examination of the facts by the St. Cloud Police Citizens’ Review Board.

Six citizens and three members of the police department serve on the review board, which has examined complaints against St. Cloud peace officers since 1998. The group’s mission statement on the SCPD website gets to the point: “The Police Review Board examines the investigation report of citizen allegations of officer misconduct and then recommends a disposition of the case to the Chief of Police.”

The St. Cloud Times says it’s “one of the few police departments in the state and nation that has a citizen review board.”

The review board makes its a decision on each complaint after receiving the police department’s final investigation report, conducted by its Professional Standards Unit. An administrative review process is conducted for any case that doesn’t require a full internal investigation, said Police Chief Blair Anderson.

The allegations filed against officers in 2020 ran the gamut, according to the breakdown provided by the paper.

-13 citizen allegations of officers behaving in a manner unbecoming of police

-12 allegations of unsatisfactory performance

-eight use of force allegations

-five alleged violations of the officer courtesy policy

-three prejudice or discrimination allegations

-two allegations each of untruthfulness, mobile video recording violations and  constitutional rights violations

-one allegation of Taser misuse

There were also two allegations that do not match any current policies in the department.

After sorting through the police files and statements of the citizens who filed the complaints, the review board confirmed two cases against two different officers.

Of the 25 complaints, two were found to be substantiated and brought administrative action against the officers involved. The cases involved violations of the department’s mobile video recording equipment policy and professional conduct policies. 

The paper says the two officers involved in the complaints that were upheld were reprimanded for their actions but remain with the department. In the board’s five-page final report, Chair John Omondi praised the process.

I believe that it is the consensus of the board that the meetings held are well-focused on ensuring that the level of transparency exists regarding the police department’s handling of citizen complaints. Through the process established by the city ordinance, the board has observed that the police department is thoroughly examining complaints made by the citizens and fairly determines the just outcome. In all cases discussed, the board found that the overall police department has consistently demonstrated a high degree of professionalism when dealing with people in all types of situations.