Minneapolis Police Department at the Third Precinct in South Minneapolis. This image is part of a series following the unrest and events in Minneapolis following the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd. Photo courtesy of Chad Davis Photography

City of Minneapolis announces officer wellness and accountability reform

Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim Police Chief Huffman announced reforms focused on officer wellness and accountability in the MPD.

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Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman announced new officer health and wellness initiatives in addition to an updated discipline matrix. This update follows after a recent Minnesota Department of Human Rights report concluded that the City and its officers repeatedly engage in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

According to officials, the new reform “reflects the City of Minneapolis’ commitment to continued reform in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) with a focus on transparent and accountable practices to best serve the city.”

The MPD and City of Minneapolis have been on international watch after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by former officer Derek Chauvin. Minneapolis voters rejected a proposal to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety last November and this health and wellness initiative is one of many reforms the city has implemented. 

“Over the past two years we have pushed forward dozens of police reforms, and we aren’t slowing down now,” said Frey. “First, officers need to be at their best while on duty, so we are making sure to prioritize adequate rest in between shifts. Additionally, we have updated the discipline matrix to make it clear that officers who need to be held accountable will be held accountable. Interim Chief Huffman has done an excellent job to add much needed clarity to the matrix so both officers and the community have the same understanding and expectations when it comes to MPD discipline.”

Since May 22, MPD has been observing a new policy (page 106) governing how many hours an officer may work in a given week or any given shift. According to the policy document, the number of hours an officer may work is limited to 74 total hours each week — and the number of consecutive hours worked is limited to 16 total hours in one day.

“An emphasis on rest and wellness was a key component in building out this new policy which also requires at least eight consecutive hours off for every 24 hours worked and requires employees have at least one full 24-hour day with no work shifts in any capacity each week,” City Officials said.

The City said that they’re also in the process of pursuing mental health services specific to MPD — focusing on officer mental health and well-being. The process is underway to find a vendor to provide these trauma-informed psychological services to MPD officers and will ask potential vendors to outline a plan for weekly or bi-weekly group sessions, individual counseling sessions, peer support, family support and training support.

Additionally, MPD will be hiring a new role for a Health and Wellness Manager. This role and will be responsible for creating and implementing a robust wellness program for MPD staff. The position will be posted to the City’s website this week.

“Our officers are tasked with critically important — and often very difficult — work to assist in times of crisis, to protect lives and safety, to keep the peace and to uphold the law,” said Huffman. “They can provide the very best to our community when supported with access to strong wellness and mental health services, policies that support adequate rest and time to recharge, and a disciplinary framework that is fair, clear, and reflects the values of this department. As an organization, we must invest in our people, our processes, and our policies so that we can provide the public safety services our city needs and be a workplace where our employees will flourish and grow strong careers.”

On June 1, the ordinance made MPD officers accountable to an updated discipline matrix. Interim Chief Huffman led the implementation of this refreshed tool, which was last updated in 2018, according to the City. The updated matrix reflects a new framework that guides disciplinary decisions in support of a system that is fair, consistent, and transparent.

The updated structure claims to recategorize and clarify levels of discipline for policy violations dependent upon the facts and circumstances of each case and is responsive to the changing practices in policing. Evaluation of policy violations considering the harm or risk of harm created by misconduct will take precedence. 

Additional new changes include adding an entire violation section to identify policy violations that warrant termination and explicitly spelling out a range of discipline for each violation level.

According to Minneapolis officials, the 2022 update was developed collaboratively with input from MPD and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis using research and similar matrices from several other police agencies. The structure may be revised at any time based upon changing values, and not all MPD policy violations are listed in the discipline matrix.

The full MPD policy manual is available online

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

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