Apr 28, 2022 - News

5 takeaways from the Minnesota probe into Minneapolis police

Illustration of a cracked magnifying glass over a police badge.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A searing state investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department released Wednesday documents a pattern of racism in the city's police department, including data showing officers are more likely to stop, cite, arrest and use more severe force against Black individuals.

Here are some of the findings of the 72-page Minnesota Department of Human Rights report:

1. Black people make up about 19% of the city population but account for 63% of all use-of-force incidents recorded between 2010 and 2020.

  • Officers were almost two times as likely to use neck restraints on Black individuals than white individuals in similar situations.
  • Data also showed MPD officers were 12% more likely to stop a car occupied by a person of color or Indigenous person during the day, when they could presumably see the race of the driver or passenger.

2. Officers used covert social media accounts to pose as "like-minded individuals" and anonymously criticize local groups and elected officials. The surveillance wasn't related to suspected criminal activity.

  • In one case, "an MPD officer posed as a community member and RSVP'd to attend the birthday party of a prominent Black civil rights lawyer and activist."
  • Of note: "As of December 2020, MPD did not operate its own covert social media accounts to track white supremacist or white nationalist groups."

3. Review of body camera footage, interviews and records found "consistent use of racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language," including offensive slurs about Black people, Somalis and women.

  • "City and County prosecutors noted that it can be difficult to rely on MPD officers' body worn camera video in court because of how disrespectful and offensive MPD officers are to criminal suspects, witnesses, and bystanders," the report states.

4. Trainings relied on racist and sexist tropes, reinforcing "a culture that exacerbates a pattern of race-based policing" and "a mentality of unquestioning obedience."

  • Veteran officers "set the tone... positioning community members as the enemy."
  • As a result, officers regularly failed to de-escalate situations before resorting to use of force. The report cites a 2016 "decision to mock [a] handcuffed man and then beat him until he bled."

5. Officers were much more likely (2.5 times) to use a Taser against someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

  • Dozens of officers, meanwhile, "repeatedly expressed" a desire for additional mental health and wellness supports.

More coverage: Probe into racist policing in Minneapolis sparks new push for change

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