Minneapolis officials plan to expedite release of some police information

Five Minneapolis employees will move from the city’s police department to the clerk’s office as part of an effort to expedite the release of certain police information, officials said Friday.

“Our police department receives more data practice requests than all other departments combined,” Mayor Jacob Frey said at a press conference. “So it gives us the ability to centralize the work [and] hopefully improve transparency, as well as responsiveness.”

The city said it typically receives about 150 requests a day from people seeking police information, ranging from accident reports and statistics to videos, records or emails. Officials said they receive about 50 requests a week for all other city services.

The change comes at a time when Frey faces new demands to overhaul the department and improve transparency following the police killing of Amir Locke. It expands on a decision made in the summer of 2020, when city officials moved two employees of the Police Department’s Records Information Unit to the clerk’s offices amid public cries for more transparency after the murder of George Floyd.

City Clerk Casey Carl said the move in 2020 allowed the Clerk’s Office to take responsibility for reviewing and writing police information, but still left the MPD Records Unit responsible for collecting of the documents and the publication of the information after their examination.

The latest change, Carl said, means 10 full-time staff are available to review applications from all city departments. He said he hopes the move will allow them to create a more uniform process for prioritizing requests and possibly expedite police-related release requests, some of which have taken months to process.

Frey said work on the transition begins immediately. To make the change permanent, he would need city council to approve it in future budget processes. City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano, who appeared alongside Frey at the press conference, said she fully supported the change, and many of her colleagues said they did as well.