Big changes could soon come to Minneapolis' embattled police department
Sweeping overhauls and new oversight aimed at addressing an alleged pattern of racist policing could soon be coming to Minneapolis.
Driving the news: The Minneapolis City Council met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss a potential settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
- The council is scheduled to meet again this morning, and at least one council member has indicated a vote could come as soon as today.
- Mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Human Rights commissioner Rebecca Lucero are scheduled to address the agreement at an 11am news conference today.
Why it matters: An agreement could bring legally binding, court-enforced changes to everything from MPD's training to transparency.
- A draft obtained by the Star Tribune includes reforms related to traffic stops, officer misconduct cases and use of chemical irritants during protests.
Context: Negotiations toward a settlement followed an extensive, two-year state investigation sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
- The scathing report that followed found that MPD violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by routinely treating people of color differently than white people in similar situations.
- It blamed MPD culture, training and a lack of accountability for officers accused of misconduct.
What we're watching: A U.S. Department of Justice probe into MPD's practices, announced close to two years ago, is ongoing.
- That could result in a separate consent decree focused on violations of federal law that reinforces — or expands — reforms enacted as part of the state agreement.
What they're saying: Joseph Daly, an arbitrator and emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told Axios he expects any eventual agreements "have a big impact" on local policing, in part because the city is not in a position to negotiate the changes down.
- "There's a lot of evidence, culminating in [the death of] George Floyd, that the police department in Minneapolis has not been trained well [and] has been violating a number of citizens’ rights," he said. "The department as a whole and the police union has to get their acts together to start following constitutional mandates."
Zoom out: Some experts say federal consent decrees have mostly proved successful in reducing use-of-force and other problems within police departments across the nation.
Yes, but: Some cities have seen slower progress and struggled to meet court-ordered requirements.
What’s next: Once finalized, the state-level agreement will need sign off from City Council, Frey and the Department of Human Rights.
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