Apr 28, 2022 - News

Probe into racist policing in Minneapolis sparks new push for change

man in front of police station
A demonstrator outside a Minneapolis police precinct in 2020. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Court-ordered changes could be coming to the Minneapolis Police Department following the release of a blistering state probe into widespread issues of racial discrimination at the department.

Driving the news: A 72-page report released Wednesday by the state Department of Human Rights found probable cause that MPD's treatment of people of color violates state civil rights laws.

Why it matters: The two-year investigation, launched days after George Floyd was murdered, is one of the most thorough and searing independent accounts to date of the issues at the troubled department — and their underlying causes.

  • It sets the stage for a consent decree requiring reforms and oversight moving forward.

Yes, but: While the stories and statistics in the report are shocking, the overall findings didn't come as a surprise to many in the community.

  • "What pains me in this is that we needed a report to validate what Black people have been saying for decades, years," the city's Regulatory Services Department director Saray Garnett-Hochuli told reporters.

Zoom in: The investigation, which included review of 700 hours of body camera footage and nearly 480,000 pages of documents, details a pattern of racist policing and misconduct over a 10 year period.

  • Culture, a lack of accountability for misconduct and a failure by city leaders to respond are largely to blame, the state agency found.
  • "Without fundamental organizational culture changes, reforming MPD's policies, procedures, and trainings will be meaningless," the report reads.

The response: Mayor Jacob Frey again vowed to push for more changes, saying the report's "repugnant, at times horrific" findings underscore the need to "do things differently, to transform what has been broken."

  • Interim police chief Amelia Huffman called the contents "deeply concerning" and said the department remains "committed to providing effective, constitutional police service."

What's next: The department and city leaders will negotiate terms of the consent decree. That process could take some time.

  • "We obviously want to work with urgency because this is something that is very important to the citizens of Minneapolis and we want to make sure we get it right," state Human Rights commissioner Rebecca Lucero said.

What to watch: A U.S. Department of Justice probe into MPD's practices, announced just over a year ago, is ongoing.

  • In the meantime, expect these findings to loom over the search for a new chief and ongoing debate between the mayor and council over proposed policy and structural changes for MPD.
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