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MPD settlement agreement approved, altering the future of policing in Minneapolis

MPD settlement agreement approved, altering the future of policing in Minneapolis
MPD settlement agreement approved, altering the future of policing in Minneapolis 02:02

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minneapolis City Council has given their approval to a court-enforceable settlement agreement that will alter the city's policing practices following the murder of George Floyd.

The vote was unanimous among those present for the vote, with two council members not present during the proceedings.

An announcement on the vote was scheduled for 11 a.m. and involved Mayor Jacob Frey, Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, and other leaders from the city as well as the city's police department.

The Minneapolis City Council reportedly held a special meeting Thursday to discuss the potential settlement in a lawsuit filed by the human rights department, and on Friday morning presented their thoughts to the public.

City of Minneapolis

City and state officials had been negotiating the agreement, in fits and starts, since the state agency issued a scathing report last year that said the police department had engaged in a pattern of race discrimination for at least a decade. The city and state then agreed to negotiate a court-enforceable agreement, in some cases referred to as a consent decree, moving to address the long list of problems identified in the report.

RELATED: Mpls. Police, City Engage In 'Discriminatory, Race-Based Policing,' Human Rights Dept. Probe Finds

On Friday morning, city attorney Kristyn Anderson presented the background of the case to the city council, saying the settlement would help the city avoid being sued by the state, and clarifying that this particular case would not be considered a consent decree but only a court-enforceable settlement agreement.

She said it would be a historic agreement, and the first of its kind in Minnesota. The city would have to demonstrate it is following the settlement to an outside evaluator. The agreement would come with 13 different pieces, pertaining to things from stop and search to body-worn camera use to new police training.

The settlement has major themes, including an organizational and cultural change. It means revising and reinforcing clear protocols on use-of-force, de-escalation practices, and how the department performs searches and arrests. Examples include the difference between probable cause versus speculation, interactions with minors, and refraining from pulling a vehicle over for something like a broken tail light.

Another major change involves setting up a data base to record, to search and analyze almost everything related to officer conduct and investigations. 

The agreement would also require behavioral health and response teams to work with the MPD, would set up a new form of oversight, and would require the city to provide funding to meet its new obligations.

The agreement comes with a "due date" of four years from now, though Lucero stressed that it's historically rare for city police departments to turn things around in that time, and suggested the agreement would then be extended.

Members of the council were given an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns prior to the vote:

"We have to do better.  I'm looking forward to working with everyone who wants to work on this," LaTrisha Vetaw, Ward 4 Council Member, said before the vote.

"We cannot talking about moving forward without acknowledging our past and asking for forgiveness ... I'm glad that we are forced to enact change. Because without this document, there would be no reform," Jason Chavez, Ward 9 Council Member, said. "I'm voting for this because we are guilty."

According to Mayor Jacob Frey, the endeavor could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and it will require difficult budget decisions in the future.

"This isn't about a checklist to say we did this and we're done, we did that and we're done. This is about making change real. It's about changing the culture of policing," said Minneapolis Police Department Chief Brian O'Hara.

Lawmakers from the Minneapolis delegation issued a statement about the agreement Friday afternoon:

"It has been a long road to this moment, but the consent decree reached between the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will bring changes and accountability our communities have been asking for. This is a crucial step, and we thank the city and state officials for their tireless efforts in reaching this agreement. 

"Our city is safer when those sworn to protect it do so in a system that is free of racism, misogyny, and disrespect. Today's news brings us closer to rebuilding the necessary trust between residents and the MPD."

Minneapolis reaches $600K settlement for protesters hurt during George Floyd protests 00:38

Gov. Tim Walz said he was "grateful for MDHR's partnership with the City of Minneapolis on this agreement and the work to engage community members and law enforcement for feedback along the way. This is an important step, but let's not lose sight of the work left to do - this is the beginning of a process to restore trust and ensure public safety for all."

"The consent decree between the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the City of Minneapolis is historic. For the first time ever, very significant steps that the City and the Minneapolis Police Department have bound themselves to take to build community trust and make every Minneapolis resident and police officer safer, centered around transformational changes to organizational culture, will be enforceable in court. As someone who has been working for human rights and safer communities in policing for 30 years, I am very hopeful," said Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Attorney Ben Crump, who represents George Floyd's family, said "The monumental Minneapolis police reform agreement reached today is the culmination of years of heartbreak and advocacy by those impacted by the poor policies and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department, including George Floyd, Amir Locke and many others. "

The city is also awaiting the results of a similarly sweeping federal investigation into whether the police department has engaged in a "pattern or practice" of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. The Justice Department launched its probe a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, killing of Floyd.

The federal investigation is expected to lead to a separate court-enforceable consent decree. The city and state would then modify their agreement to resolve any conflicting provisions.

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