City of Minneapolis and state's human rights dept. talking again about MPD reforms

The city had pushed back against claims made in scathing human rights report issued earlier this year

People stand in a room for a press conference
Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a press conference held by Minneapolis city leaders responding to a state investigation of the MPD by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on April 27.
Jon Collins | MPR News File

After the city of Minneapolis stalled negotiations with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights over the fate of the Minneapolis Police Department, talks have resumed, and city officials say they’ve agreed on a joint set of principles to guide them forward. 

In a scathing report in April, the department found that the Minneapolis Police Department had engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination. Investigators found that Minneapolis police were more likely to arrest or use force on residents of color, and that it was common for officers to use prejudicial or abusive language.  

The Department of Human Rights initiated an investigation into Minneapolis police just days after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020. City officials disputed parts of those findings and skipped two meetings with the state. But the two sides say they've now agreed on a statement of principles to guide the talks.

The department wants to negotiate a consent decree with the city, which would require the Minneapolis Police Department to make specific changes to policies and practices. It would be enforced by the courts and overseen by an independent monitor. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that he’s welcoming the opportunity to “work together to get this right.” 

“We all want to ensure we address and solve the issues at hand and shift our culture for generations to come,” Frey said. 

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A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights said agency officials look forward to addressing “race-based policing that undermines public safety in Minneapolis.”

The two-page agreement commits to negotiating a court-enforceable settlement, but acknowledges that “changes will not occur overnight.” The parties agree to focus on police use of force, traffic enforcement, training and systems of accountability including disciplinary systems. It will also cover “the organizational culture within MPD, community trust, officer wellness and support, and data collection and transparency.”

The agreement between Minneapolis and the state Department of Human Rights sets the goal of reaching a deal sometime this fall. 

Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins said in a statement that she’s encouraged by the continued collaboration with the Department of Human Rights. 

“For years, our Black and brown residents have been telling us about the racism they face daily at the hands of the MPD,” said Jenkins. “I stand ready to work with all who are ready to fight for justice, equity and fair treatment for everyone.” 

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the Minneapolis Police Department. The parties agreed that any federal consent decree that’s reached with the city allows them to modify the state settlement to ensure they don’t conflict.