Mayor Coleman’s statement on Council’s 5-2 vote to remove police officers from the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC)

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today (December 8, 2016) released the following statement regarding the City Council’s vote last night in support of an amendment to remove police officers from the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC). The Council will take final action next week on the larger proposal to evolve the PCIARC.  

“When I first called for the audit of the commission, I promised that we would move forward in a way that honored the best tradition of Saint Paul," said Mayor Coleman. "We listened to all sides – hearing from police officers, hearing from members of the many diverse communities in our city, hearing from members of the commission past and present. That is the Saint Paul way and I am proud that we pursued that path. And after the auditors provided their recommendations, we shared them in a series of public conversations that invited further dialogue.

“Through the course of our work, we heard from community members who were concerned about officers on the commission having undue influence or not being willing to hold their colleagues accountable. We also heard from officers who believe that in order to trust the commission and its outcomes, they need to have a seat at the table. And we heard very early on from the majority on City Council that they would not support removing officers from the Commission.

“The fact of the matter is, we live in a world that is far too polarized and, I believe, we are at our best when we stay in dialogue with one another. That is why the compromise proposal the City Attorney and I advanced last month would have increased the number of civilians on the commission from five to seven to ensure it truly is a citizen-led body. It also would have preserved officers on the commission, but increased their required rank to that of commander – ensuring that officers on the PCIARC are used to imposing discipline as part of their job.

“In a vote two weeks ago, Councilmembers voted 6-1 in favor of keeping officers on the commission, but changed my recommendation that would have required the sitting officers to hold the rank of commander. Last night, they changed course, voting to remove officers from the commission altogether by a vote of 5-2.

“I understand this is an intensely personal issue for everyone who felt compelled to come forward and express their point of view. I want to reassure everyone in the community that as we move to implement the Council's decision on this matter, I am going to work very closely with the community – including police officers – to ensure confidence in the civilian review process.

“Lastly, I continue to believe the Saint Paul Police Department is one of the finest in the country – and it is addressing more vigorously than any other the very serious issues being raised by community members they serve.”