ACLU says St. Paul withheld public police records in lawsuit, city directs PD to comply with all requests

The ACLU says it is suing the city of St. Paul in state court for withholding public police records and, in response, city officials have directed the Police Department to comply with the ACLU's requests. 

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to “get public data that officials have improperly withheld for more than 18 months,” it said in a release.

Starting in 2018, the ACLU says St. Paul Police has not produced all of the requested data for felony, gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor arrests along with the identity of police officers associated with citations, arrests, stops or uses of force. The requested data involves information from Jan. 1, 2015 to the present.

Additionally, the ACLU says it called for the release of any information related to investigative stops, stop and talks and stop and frisk interactions or anything other than traffic stops.

The ACLU also says the SPPD refused to produce use-of-force reports documented by law enforcement.  

“Although Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and SPPD Chief Todd Axtell have publicly committed to government transparency and police accountability, the SPPD has not produced information required by Minnesota government data laws,” the lawsuit said.

ACLU-Minnesota staff attorney David McKinney says he has been requesting this St. Paul Police data for more than 18 months, but has only received a “fraction” of it.

McKinney added that the data is needed to “understand the scope of racial disparities that are already apparent in the limited amount of data that the police department has released,” among other things.

The ACLU says St. Paul Police claims it doesn’t track investigative stops and that its electronic storage system is “antiquated” and doesn’t allow for the production of detailed arrest and apprehension data.

“The ACLU is asking the court to make SPPD follow the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and release this public data,” the release says.

In a statement from its City Attorney Wednesday, the city of St. Paul said it "supports the work of the ACLU" and has directed police to "provide all available data as soon as possible." 

Here is the full statement from the city of St. Paul: 

The Administration supports the work of the ACLU and has directed the Police Department to provide all available data as soon as possible.