Government Plaza, and Minneapolis City Hall.

Minneapolis agrees to police reform plan

7 mins read

MINNEAPOLIS— Today, Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council approved terms of a court-enforceable settlement agreement that outlines policy, budgetary, and training requirements that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and City enterprise will undertake.

The City and Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) started negotiating terms of the agreement last June following the State’s release of probable cause findings. The settlement agreement comes on the heels of a sustained push to shift the culture within the MPD. Under the direction of Mayor Frey, the City and the MPD have aggressively pursued policy and training reforms before, during, and after the State’s investigation into the department.

Since June 2020, Mayor Frey and MPD leadership have implemented sweeping changes including overhauling the discipline matrix, placing limitations on pretextual traffic stops, updating the Field Training Officer program, restricting the use of less lethal munitions, and more.

“Following the approval of this agreement, the City’s overarching goal will not be limited to compliance or words on a page,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Our overriding goal will be building a better, more just approach to policing and community safety in Minneapolis. Today, we confront our past and move forward with a roadmap for meaningful change in our city.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks at a press conference following the jury returning guilty on all counts in the trial of Derek Chauvin, on April 20, 2021. Behind him are Minneapolis City Council Members Alondra Cano (left) and Linea Palmisano (right). Photo by Tony Webster

“This settlement represents a roadmap for greater accountability, transparency, better training and police wellness,” said Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins. “We have begun the work to implement changes in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ findings and to restructure our Office of Community Safety and how we respond to public safety issues. We have much more work to do. I thank City leaders, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, the City Attorney’s Office and all others that worked diligently to bring this agreement to fruition, as well as my Council colleagues for agreeing to advance the necessary work and greater oversight our city needs.”

“As a Minneapolis resident, I understand the importance of having a government and police department our community can trust,” said Minneapolis City Attorney Kristyn Anderson. “One of the reasons I took this job six months ago was because of the police reform efforts were underway. Since then, I’ve been at the table for more than 30 negotiation sessions to help get us to where we are today. While this agreement isn’t the beginning of the important work we’ve been doing as a city, it is a step in the right direction. I look forward to what’s ahead, knowing it will better our police department, our city, and our entire community.”

The MDHR’s investigation, which launched on June 1, 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, looked at MPD practices going back to 2010. On April 27, 2022, MDHR announced its findings. On July 21, 2022, the City and MDHR agreed to a Joint Statement of Principles governing their negotiation of the issues identified in the MDHR findings and agreeing to enter into a court-enforceable settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement lays out a road map for achieving non-discriminatory policing and to better support community safety in Minneapolis. It includes many requirements that are already consistent with current MPD policies and reform measures. The agreement has a four-year term and may then be reviewed on an annual basis until compliance is met.

An independent evaluator will be selected by the City and MDHR within 120 days of the agreement’s effective date and will oversee the City’s compliance with the settlement agreement. The budget for the independent evaluator will be up to $1.5 million annually. In Mayor’s Frey’s approved budget, the City set aside funding to plan for a future settlement agreement or consent decree, including $2 million in 2023 and a proposed $3 million in 2024.

A Minneapolis Police officer in 2020 watching the crowd of protesters in Minneapolis, preparing tear gas. Photo by Chad Davis

Key elements of the court-enforceable settlement agreement

Accountability, Oversight, and Transparency:

  • Creates a new MPD Review Panel, chaired by the Chief or their designee, to review, analyze, and assess MPD’s enforcement practices.
    • The panel will review uses of force, traffic stops, pedestrian stops, discretionary searches, citations, and arrests to determine if they are tactically sound or reflect a need for policy change.
  • Requires data collection during certain officer interactions to advance non-discriminatory policing.
  • Directs significant investment to new IT infrastructure, including new data collection, management, and analysis systems to improve accountability, transparency, and public safety.
  • Requires a new implementation unit within MPD to guide development of policies and training practices.

Use of Force: 

  • Establishes new “levels” to more clearly define reportable uses of force.
  • Except for in critical incidents, requires each officer who uses level 2 or 3 reportable use of force, and each officer who is physically present and witnessed the use of force, to accurately and thoroughly record all information in the required systems for each use of reportable force.
  • Requires a supervisor to respond to the scene if significant force is used, which is based off the new levels of reported force.
  • Requires officer who uses reportable force to document the reason for the initial interaction.
  • Prohibits officers from sharing information with another officer for the purpose of creating or producing force reports and documentation.

Stops, Searches, and Seizures: 

  • Requires that, when feasible, officers state the basis for a stop on their body worn camera upon initiating a stop.
  • Requires officers, who have completed an investigatory stop or enforcement related contact that does not result in a citation or arrest, to provide a card or document with their first and last name, and the incident number, to the individual or individuals involved in the interaction.

Officer Wellness:

  • Requires MPD to assess what additional resources are necessary to provide the support services available to MPD employees and comport with mental health professional standards, and develop a plan, including a timeline for implementation, to prioritize and address the needs identified through the assessment.
  • Requires the City to conduct an equipment, technology, and facilities audit so officers have the resources they need.
  • Provides increased access to confidential counseling services and mental health supports.


  • Adds more training requirements for officers, supervisors, investigators and field training officers (FTOs), among others – including training officer reviews completed by their direct trainees.
  • Requires regular maintenance of and updates to an annual training plan responsive to various needs assessments including technology, health and wellness, and non-technology resources.
    • The training plan will consider changes in the law, MPD policy, and to the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements, as well as new applicable court decisions or litigation.
  • Adds new standards for key training refreshers for all MPD officers on priority areas including use of force, culturally specific interactions, body camera policy compliance, and more.
  • Requires annual instructor performance reviews that include classroom observations, feedback from external instructors where appropriate, trainee and peer review feedback, and in-person meetings with instructors to discuss performance and areas of improvement.
  • Requires revisions to policies and training related to traffic stops and searches.
  • Promotes diversity among instructors within the MPD Training Division.

Community Engagement:

  • MPD will establish a public-facing webpage in multiple languages to receive comments from community members about MPD’s policies and practices.
  • MPD will hold public engagement sessions on the department’s Mission, Vision, Values, Goals; policies regarding non-discriminatory policing and impartial policing; policies regarding use of force; and policies regarding stops, searches, and arrests.
  • Prior to any changes to the Mission, Vision, Values, Goals, non-discriminatory policing and impartial policing, use of force, and stops, searches, and arrests policies, MPD will receive online comments from community members for at least 45 calendar days.

In 2022 as part of the government restructure, the City created the Office of Community Safety to better integrate and coordinate the local government’s safety systems. Last August, the City’s first Commissioner of Community Safety Cedric Alexander was sworn in, and in November, Brian O’Hara was appointed to serve as the Minneapolis Chief of Police. Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, O’Hara oversaw the implementation of that city’s federal consent decree.

Additionally, the City recently approved an ordinance establishing a 15-member Community Commission on Police Oversight designed to improve transparency and accountability that will convene in late April.

“As the Office of Community Safety develops a comprehensive, coordinated approach, we will continue to work collaboratively to ensure all who live, work and play in Minneapolis are safe. This settlement agreement is a necessary step in the right direction to ensure Minneapolis is constitutional, legal, and respectful in its approach to policing,” said Commissioner of Community Safety Cedric Alexander.

“Today is an important day on our path to building public trust in our police department and ensuring the safety and wellness of both our residents and police officers,” said Police Chief Brian O’Hara. “While I feel confident that this agreement will help ensure the necessary resources and investments are made in MPD to deliver the high-quality policing services our residents deserve; we will not be confined by the four corners of this document. I will work to ensure the safety of all people remains paramount, and we will continue to change the culture and narrative around policing in this city so that all our residents can see it and feel it.”

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also has an ongoing pattern or practice investigation into the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department. The DOJ launched the investigation after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder on April 20, 2021.

If the DOJ reaches a consent decree with the City, MDHR and the City have agreed to modify the MDHR settlement agreement, if necessary, so that there is no conflict with a DOJ consent decree. In addition, MDHR and the City have agreed that there will be only one person or entity to independently evaluate compliance with both the MDHR settlement agreement and a DOJ consent decree.

Also today, MDHR has filed a complaint in Hennepin County District Court, along with the settlement agreement and a joint motion with the City, asking the Court to approve the terms of the settlement agreement. This lawsuit is a necessary part of the process for the settlement agreement to be approved by the court, making it “court enforceable,” as agreed in the Parties’ Joint Statement of Principles. There are no new allegations in the lawsuit.

The MDHR settlement agreement will be effective once it is approved by a Hennepin County District Court judge.

Read the court-enforceable settlement agreement.

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