Two weeks after city and state human rights officials announced they had agreed to the terms of a court-enforceable settlement agreement to reform the Minneapolis Police Department, some have turned to the community to answer questions and gather feedback.
Joined by more than a dozen residents, Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero and Ward 10 Councilwoman Ayesha Chughtai took questions Thursday night at the Bryant Square Park Forum, from how the agreement differs from past reform efforts to how the courts are involved. .
Although many questions revolve around how the agreement will be implemented and community involvement in the process, some forum-goers have expressed concerns about how city funds are being spent on implementing the agreement and officials’ willingness to build relationships with community members during the process. .
The order to be enforced by the court is a 13-part document that includes changes to MPD policies and procedures of all kinds, including use of force, field training and body-worn camera use, as well as how officers make stops, searches and arrests. It also contains many provisions relating to non-discriminatory policing.
The document consists of 144 pages It is the culmination of a years-long investigation that began in the days after the killing of George Floyd, which found that MPD had engaged in a pattern of discriminatory policing based on race for at least the past 10 years.
The city faced some criticism for not including community members in the process of drafting the agreement, although city attorney Kristen Anderson said the process did not allow the public to be at the negotiating table.
Lucero defended the MDHR process, pointing to the 30 hearings her team held last summer for residents and officers. On Thursday, she spoke about the investigation process and the requirements for change that emerged from it, emphasizing the role of the movement’s participation by community members and officers in drafting the document.
“Members of society want a culture that prioritizes humanity that prioritizes de-escalation, that is more creative and expansive with approaches to public safety, or with a lot of detail,” she said. “Society members want to put in place strong systems of accountability, which is essential for transparency and building trust.”
Anissa Parks, an educator and resident of Ward 11, reiterated that desire for confidence but said that in her experience, officers rarely share the same desire to get to know residents.
“I don’t know a single Minneapolis police officer,” she said. “If we’re going to get to the other side and build trust, you have to humanize everyone in the situation and not just humanize the people I really want to humanize: the victim. We also have to humanize the police officers.”
Ward 11 resident Kate Vickery said she’s concerned the MPD might use the settlement agreement as a way to stretch the department’s budget — which some criticize for its size — by tying compliance with the changes outlined in the document with more money than is required to afford it. with it.
“It’s really important to me that this reform document does not become an excuse to pour more money into an institution that is fundamentally racist and hurts people, no matter how that ends up happening,” she said.
Vickery asked how the Assembly and its legislature could help combat this possibility.
The solution, Chughtai said, is for the board to be inclusive and require police officials to detail how implementation funding is used before funding is approved.
“When the MPD comes in to present their budget, (we will ask them to) identify which sections of the approval decree need to be funded, whether we are on track to meet those timelines and what parts of the MPD budget are moving toward achieving them.” “So we have a very clear understanding as a council — but as a community beyond that — which of that money is going to pay for what.”