Court-enforceable police reform is coming to Minneapolis. How did we get here?

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Eleven months ago, investigators from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Issued a blistering report at the Minneapolis Police Department.

The 72-page document confirmed what many Minneapolis residents had already suspected: The city’s police department used harsher tactics against people of color and indigenous people than they did against their white neighbors.

For many critics, the names of black men killed by MPD officers — including Terrence FranklinAnd Jamar Clark And Floyd – were just the most famous examples of this style. The state report indicated that all but one of the people killed by MPD police officers between 2010 and February 2022 were men of color.

But the bulk of the state’s report focused on painting a stark picture of daily policing in Minneapolis.

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“What hurts me about this is that we needed a report to verify what black people have been saying for decades,” said Saray Garnett Hochuli, who is black and leads the city’s Department of Regulatory Services. City press conference After the report was issued in April 2022.

The report laid the groundwork for the settlement between the state and Minneapolis that city council members agreed to on Friday: an agreement to enact reforms in the MPD, on a set timetable, under court oversight.

Here’s a summary of what led to this pivotal report – and what happened before and after:

June 2020: Floyd’s death leads to an investigation and immediate changes

Less than a week after George Floyd killed MPD Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has opened an investigation into whether MPD disorder was involved in racially discriminatory policing.

Two weeks later, at the request of the MDHR, the Hennepin County Court issue an order That required MPD to begin taking five immediate actions:

  • Prohibition of officers’ use of neck restraints, known as “chokes”
  • Require President’s permission to use Crowd control weapons – such as chemicals, rubber bullets, rapid blasts, batons or marking rounds.
  • Accelerate disciplinary procedures for officers accused of misconduct
  • Implementation of an audit of all footage from cameras worn by officers
  • Uphold the duty of officers to intervene when they see a colleague using force without permission, even if that colleague is their superior

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As the city began these initial steps — all of which were completed by August — MDHR investigators began what would be a two-year investigation of multiple personality disorder (MPD).

The investigation was extensive, involving nearly 700 hours of body camera footage, 480,000 pages of records and using force data from the past decade. The detectives also completed multiple rounds with the officers, sought community input and broke down their data with the help of national police and criminologist experts from the University of Pennsylvania.

Fall 2020: New restrictions on force and no-knock orders?

As the investigation continued in the following months—and with widespread expectation that court-implemented reforms were on the way—the MPD and city leaders began implementing a series of policy changes.

Early reforms were intended to limit the ability of officers to use deadly force. In September 2020, the Department ordered officers to use de-escalation techniques and tightened MPD policy to require officers to “consider all reasonable alternatives to lethal force and to use the minimum force required.”

In November 2020, the MPD also announced new restrictions on no-knock warrants—limitations that Mayor Jacob Frey later described as “no-knock” or “postponement”. (The killing of Amir Lok by the Military Police Department later demonstrated that, in practice, police could still execute “undisclosed” search warrants under department policy, As reported by MinnPost).

Throughout 2021: More policy changes

Minneapolis leaders continued to put forward policy changes, announcing that MPD officers would Stop arresting drivers for minor violations Like expired tabs or broken license plate lights. The MPD has also instituted new prohibitions against officers turning off their body cameras.

April 2022: conclusion of a two-year investigation

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On April 27, 2022, state investigators publish their final reportconcluding that the MPD “engaged in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination”—particularly, though not exclusively, in how officers monitored black residents.

In recent years, a state team has found that — in a city where 19% of the population is black:

  • Blacks participated in 63% of the cases in which military police officers used force. An expert-led review of body camera footage showed that officers were less likely to use force against white individuals than against black individuals in the circumstances. Specifically, officers were almost twice as likely to use a neck restraint against a black person than a white person.
  • Just over half of the traffic in MPD stops Black drivers are involved. The vast majority of searches, tickets, and arrests that stemmed from these traffic stops involved black individuals. Surprisingly, the investigators found that drivers of color are less likely to be stopped by officers just after sunset — when it becomes more difficult to ascertain the driver’s gender.
  • Black individuals received 66% of MPD citations for disorderly or obstructive behavior. In the report, a “high-ranking” police chief described the charges as charges that officers often use to arrest individuals “for things that could fall under the category of displeasing the police.”
  • During these low-level incidents, MPD officers were more likely to use chemical irritants, such as mace, against black individuals from similar cases involving whites. The report indicated that officers who used this tactic frequently escalated their confrontations with black men.

The report also concluded that MPD officers were quicker to use force, regardless of the race of the other person in the interaction. In a review of 300 use-of-force files, experts found that officers failed to de-escalate in 56.8% of cases, and were “inappropriately escalated” in another 32.7% of cases.

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But the MDHR results go beyond the numbers:

  • Despite the official ban “warrior style” Years before the training, investigators concluded that MPD essentially continued to teach a “paramilitary” approach to policing, leading to unnecessary escalation — and “exacerbating the race-based pattern of policing.”
  • The MPD lacked a “meaningful independent review process” for misconduct cases, with a very close relationship between the city’s civilian-led investigative arm and the police department’s internal affairs unit. Investigators said the oversight committee that was intended to bring the voices of community members into the process lacked resources and often got in the way of the MPD and the city.
  • MPD officers and supervisors used racial slurs about community members of color, as well as about their black colleagues, according to the Bodycam footage investigators reviewed. The video also captured misogynistic remarks about women.

At a press conference, Fry said the contents of the report “made me sick and angry.” The mayor also said the city is “open” to a court-enforceable agreement that provides for further reforms to be implemented under court supervision.

“I feel this conviction in my heart right now to make these changes,” the mayor added.

Meanwhile, the MPD continued to drum up changes in policy, announcing a new ban on “All” non-knockout ordersalthough officers are still able to enter without announcing their presence in some of theEmergency conditions. “

Spring 2022: Rocky Early Talks

Disagreement over one of the MDHR’s findings led to snags in early talks.

State investigators concluded that MPD officers “used covert social media to monitor black individuals and black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity.”

In May 2022, the city skipped several negotiation sessions with MDHR due to concerns that it could not “independently verify” the claim, According to the Star Tribune. The city wanted the state to share more evidence; MDHR argued that the city has all the evidence it needs, and that sharing more could “reveal confidential sources.”

This deadlock Conversations postponed for several weeks.

July 2022: City, MDHR begin working on a settlement

Two and a half months after the state’s report was released, MDHR and city leaders signed an agreement to begin work on a settlement that would enact reforms for the police department.

The reforms will ensure “non-discrimination in policing” in Minneapolis, according to A.J Joint statement Signed by Mayor and City Council President Andrea Jenkins and MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.

“Although the City does not agree with all of the MDHR findings, it agrees that a number of MDHR findings raise important issues, and the City is committed to addressing these issues,” the joint statement said.

While the document was mostly a framework for future talks, it did include a formal agreement on a key core point:

Federal investigators are conducting their own investigation into whether MPD practices are racially discriminatory. If the US Department of Justice also finds this pattern, the federal government could seek a similar court-enforceable settlement — a consent decree — with Minneapolis.

Hoping to avoid a rift between the two settlements, Minneapolis and MDHR leaders agreed that should the feds enter into a consent decree with the city, the state would amend its settlement to ensure the two did not conflict.

They also agreed to use the same court-appointed observer who would oversee compliance with both settlements. (DoJ investigations are ongoing.)

The announcement of these discussions came just weeks after Medina I hired my first community safety commissioner, Cedric Alexanderwhich would oversee the MPD and other existing public safety agencies — along with a new office that would explore other ways to keep neighborhoods safe without involving the police.

September 2022: Minneapolis announces the selection of a new Chief of Police

Frey nominated Brian O’Hara—then deputy mayor of Newark, NJ—to succeed Retired MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo.

in announcing his choicethe mayor cited O’Hara’s experience in putting in place a consent ordinance in that city – “This is clearly the way we’re going down.”

March 2023: Preparing for settlements, MPD announces management changes

In early March, O’Hara briefed city council members on a series of proposed changes to the police department’s organizational hierarchy—with some changes effective immediately, others effective later.

One instant change: Create a new assistant chief position Who will oversee the parts of the department “that work to rebuild trust, engage with the community and… change the narrative around policing”.

In the future, the president said, the MPD plans to create a new deputy chief position that would oversee a new “Office of Constitutional Police”—one that would oversee all reforms that an upcoming settlement or consent decree might require.

“It’s all about compliance. That’s what these things are all about,” O’Hara said.

He added that while the city would pay a court-appointed superintendent to oversee the repairs, the onus of change “is on us — you know, mostly on the police department — to get these things done, to be able to prove that somehow we’re doing them.” [the agreement provisions] Almost perfectly… I think that’s the structure that will get us there faster. “

A few council members raised concerns about the ballooning of the department’s administrative ranks. One council member—Wing 4 representative Latrica Vitau—ultimately voted against the new Assistant Chair position because of this concern.

O’Hara said the new senior positions are necessary to signal the importance of these changes internally, to management, and externally, to the public.

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