Frey, Palmisano lead police records restructure

February 25, 2022

The City of Minneapolis is restructuring how police data requests are handled internally, an enterprise-wide collaboration to invest in streamlining all data practices requests. Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Vice President Linea Palmisano have prioritized this work to specifically reevaluate how police data requests are handled.

Until now, police data requests have been handled exclusively by the Minneapolis Police Department’s Records and Information Unit (RIU). Those requests ranged from copies of public police and accident reports to more complex requests for statistics, personnel data, video, case files and hundreds of reports that all needed to be reviewed before releasing. While these police data requests have increased over the past decade, RIU was also given more responsibilities.

In partnership with the Office of the City Clerk, the City Attorney’s Office, and the Minneapolis Police Department, Mayor Frey and Council Vice President Palmisano have asked that all data requests – police and other City business – be initially processed by a team from the Office of the City Clerk. Five full-time employees from RIU are being moved to the City Clerk to handle the increased volume of requests.

“Accessibility and responsiveness are the City’s top priorities when it comes to managing public data,” said Frey. “Amid increased interest and higher demand, this move marks the beginning of our shared longer-term work to streamline and centralize important local government services. This is good news for good governance, and we applaud our internal staff team for their commitment to making this transition a priority.” 

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it is that we need to better integrate MPD into our enterprise-wide systems,” said Council Vice President Palmisano. “This is a positive step forward in becoming a less siloed and more integrated city. While not an immediate change, this provides a roadmap to more accessibility and transparency." 

The restructure of police data requests follows a City change from 2020 which shifted responsibility and personnel to the Office of the City Clerk to review and redact police data but which left responsibility for managing all other aspects of the requests in the police department.

City staff are working swiftly on this change and anticipate the new data request process to be up and running later this year. These changes will not affect the way the public requests data from the City.

“The ability to respond effectively to requests for information is critical to building public trust,” said Interim Chief Huffman. “Building a more streamlined system for handling police data requests is an important part of meeting our commitment to our community. I’m proud that MPD is part of a collaborative city enterprise that brings staff together to provide excellent service.”

Consolidating City staff who respond to data requests will result in the creation of a specialized team that can grow together and be more impactful at making public data available as promptly as possible. 

“These are practical steps that will help improve the City’s capacity to provide access to government data,” said City Clerk Casey Carl. “Bringing these people together to form one data request response team is a smart investment in government transparency.”