NEWS: Investigation Report on Race-Based Policing in Minneapolis

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced this morning its findings that the City of Minneapolis (City) and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) engage in a pattern or practice of race discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The U.S. Department of Justice also has an ongoing pattern or practice investigation into the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department, assessing use of force by MPD officers, including against individuals with behavioral health disabilities and protestors.

Next, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will work with the City to develop a consent decree to address discriminatory, race-based policing in Minneapolis. 

This is the summary news release from the report provided by the department. Find the full report here.

Investigation Findings 

MPD engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing as evidenced by:

  • Racial disparities in how MPD officers use force, stop, search, arrest, and cite people of color, particularly Black individuals, compared to white individuals in similar circumstances.
  • MPD officers’ use of covert social media to surveil Black individuals and Black organizations, unrelated to criminal activity.
  • MPD officers’ consistent use of racist, misogynistic, and disrespectful language.

Source: Minnesota Department of Human Rights

The pattern or practice of discriminatory, race-based policing is caused primarily by an organizational culture where: 

  • MPD officers, supervisors, and field training officers receive deficient training, which emphasizes a paramilitary approach to policing that results in officers unnecessarily escalating encounters or using inappropriate levels of force.
  • Accountability systems are insufficient and ineffective at holding officers accountable for misconduct.
  • Former and current City and MPD leaders have not collectively acted with the urgency, coordination, and intentionality necessary to address racial disparities in policing to improve public safety and increase community trust.

Without fundamental, organizational culture changes, reforming MPD’s policies, procedures, and trainings will be meaningless.

In 56.8% of cases, MPD officers fail to de-escalate when it would otherwise be appropriate to do so when they engage with community members of all racial backgrounds. And, in fact, MPD officers improperly escalate situations in 32.7% of cases.

Next Steps: Working Toward a Consent Decree

Moving forward, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will work with the City to develop a consent decree, which is a court-enforceable agreement that identifies specific changes to be made and timelines for those changes to occur.

Unlike previous efforts to reform policing in Minneapolis, a consent decree is a court order issued by a judge. Importantly, a consent decree also integrates independent oversight in the form of a monitor or monitoring team that regularly reports to the court to hold the parties accountable to the agreed upon changes.

As part of this process, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will meet with community members, MPD officers, City staff, and other stakeholders to gather feedback on what should be included in a consent decree to address racial discrimination in policing in Minneapolis.

At this time, ideas for potential changes in a consent decree can be provided to MDHR at mn.gov/mdhr/mpd/contactus.

About the Comprehensive Investigation

From ride-alongs with police officers in every precinct to reviewing about 480,000 pages of City and MPD documents to interviewing and reviewing statements from 2,200 community members, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights conducted a comprehensive investigation.

In every precinct, MPD officers were between 1.3 times and 2.1 times more likely to arrest a Black individual than a white individual during similar traffic stops. This means that racial disparities in who MPD officers arrest during traffic stops cannot be blamed on only one precinct.

Deeper Reading

MN Reformer summary