Minneapolis City Council signs off on policing alternatives contract with NYU

A man speaks to the press
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks at a press conference on Monday.
Jon Collins | MPR News

The Minneapolis City Council today approved a $1 million contract to help the city implement more public safety alternatives to policing. The contract with New York University School of Law’s Policing Project will allow the city to pursue recommendations from a report released earlier this year by researchers at Harvard. 

That report calls for the city to work on providing services designed to prevent social challenges from turning into crime and disorder. It also recommends the city build upon alternative policing programs it’s already launched, including its behavioral crisis response program — which sends unarmed mental health professionals, rather than armed law enforcement, on some calls.

The contract passed 13-0. However, Council Member Robin Wonsley asked for clarity on the “single source” designation assigned to the contract — meaning there were no competitive bids called for. 

Wonsley said she’d heard public comment, “which raised this question, ‘are we circumventing our procurement practices in order to do this single source?’ So I at least wanted to get clarity on that.”

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A city attorney told Wonsley that the office has looked at it closely and determined that it’s a legitimate basis for a single source contract. 

“No alternatives were deemed acceptable because The Policing Project has constructed a team and a community of thought leaders and practitioners nationwide, coming together to collaboratively solve problems and share information about reimagining public safety,” reads an analysis included in the city’s request for committee action on the contract.  

Last week, a Minneapolis lawyer sued the city alleging that its procedure for awarding grants for some public safety programs was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The contract with NYU covers a two-year period and expires in Nov. 2025.