Following its investigation, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) today released its findings and announced that the City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) engage in a “pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.”
MDHR will next work with the City to develop a consent decree to address discriminatory, race-based policing in Minneapolis.
“Following the murder of George Floyd, demands to end discriminatory policing practices reverberated across the world. Those demands remain just as urgent today with the announcement of the investigative findings which paints an unsettling picture of the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department engaging in a pattern of racial discrimination over the last decade,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.
“Race-based policing is unlawful and harms everyone, especially people of color and Indigenous community members – sometimes costing community members their lives,” continued Commissioner Lucero. “I look forward to the work ahead with the City, MPD, and community members to improve public safety by reversing unlawful policing practices.”
MDHR found that there is “probable cause” that the City and MPD engage in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Specifically, MDHR found that the MPD engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing as evidenced by racial disparities in how MPD officers use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color, particularly Black individuals, compared to white individuals in similar circumstances.
The report also found that MPD officers’ use covert social media to surveil Black individuals and Black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity. The report also stated that MPD officers consistently use racist, misogynistic and disrespectful language.
According to MDHR, the pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing is caused primarily by an organizational culture where MPD officers, supervisors and field training officers receive deficient training, which emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing that results in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force.
MDHR also concluded that accountability systems are insufficient and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct. The report continued to state that former and current City and MPD leaders have not collectively acted with the urgency, coordination and intentionality necessary to address racial disparities in policing to improve public safety and increase community trust.
“Without fundamental, organizational culture changes, reforming MPD’s policies, procedures, and trainings will be meaningless,” the Department of Human Rights said in the report.
The complete 72-page findings can be found on MDHR’s website.
MDHR also stated that they will work with the City to develop a consent decree, which is a court-enforceable agreement that identifies specific changes to be made and timelines for those changes to occur.
Unlike previous efforts to reform policing in Minneapolis, a consent decree is a court order issued by a judge. A consent decree also integrates independent oversight in the form of a monitor or monitoring team that regularly reports to the court to hold the parties accountable to the agreed upon changes.
As part of this process, MDHR will meet with community members, MPD officers, City staff, and other stakeholders to gather feedback on what should be included in a consent decree to address racial discrimination in policing in Minneapolis.
About the comprehensive investigation
On June 1, 2020, MDHR launched its pattern or practice investigation after a former MPD officer murdered George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
MDHR’s investigation resulted in early and significant public safety changes. On June 8, 2020, MDHR obtained a temporary court order from Hennepin County District Court that required the City and MPD to make immediate changes. The court order required MPD to change how officers interact with community members and resulted in police accountability changes. Importantly, the City and MPD incorporated all the changes identified in the court order into their policies, ordinances, and procedures.
MDHR’s comprehensive investigation included review of approximately 700 hours of body worn camera footage; review of approximately 480,000 pages of City and MPD documents; observation of approximately 87 hours of MPD Academy trainings; multiple ride-alongs with MPD officers in each of MPD’s five precincts; analysis of MPD’s policing data from the last ten years; and review of police use of force files and alleged police misconduct files.
Additionally, MDHR interviewed current and former Mayors and Police Chiefs; MPD officers; City of Minneapolis staff and elected officials; prosecutors and public defenders; health care professionals; and representatives from violence prevention and support services organizations. MDHR also interviewed and reviewed statements from over 2,200 community members and conducted 15 listening sessions with neighborhood associations and organizations across Minneapolis.
To assist with completing its investigation, MDHR worked with nationally recognized experts. This included policing practice experts at 21CP Solutions, many of whom formerly served as police chiefs around the United States, and Greg Ridgeway, a renowned statistician and Professor of Criminology, Statistics, and Data Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Department of Criminology. MDHR thanks the Joyce Foundation for their continued support, which has allowed MDHR to work with these experts.
‘This investigation would not have been possible without a team of lawyers and staff from Kirkland and Ellis, which provided a tremendous amount of pro bono support,” MDHR leaders said. “This includes support from Lisa Madigan, the former Illinois Attorney General, currently a partner at Kirkland and Ellis.”