The Minneapolis Star Tribune, through interviews and confidential police and court documents, retraced the inner workings of a public corruption probe from its origins in 2006. When Police Chief Tim Dolan was sworn in on Jan. 9, 2007, he vowed to return “pride to the patch” and assure the public that the 900 sworn officers patrolling the city were beyond reproach. Dolan also inherited the rapidly unfolding corruption investigation. Now, eight months before Dolan comes up for reappointment, his vision has been put at risk by the probe and a discrimination lawsuit by five black officers — some also tangled in the investigation. The suit lingered more than a year before it was settled 10 days ago. The accusations contained in it and the corruption investigation have laid bare racial discord, petty corruption, cronyism, and mistrust in the ranks that have dogged the department for decades.
The FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. attorney’s office and the Minneapolis Police Department spent tens of thousands of hours and public dollars trying to prove the allegations that cops were taking bribes in return for enabling the criminal operations of gangs to flourish. Eighteen months into the probe, some of the investigators believed they were on the brink of proving the claims. Then the U.S. attorney’s office suddenly shut it down, walking away with the indictment of a single officer, charged with tax evasion and taking two payments of $100 each in exchange for private police information.