After the city of Minneapolis blocked negotiations with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights over the fate of the Minneapolis Police Department, talks resumed and city officials said they had reached an agreement on a set of common principles to guide them forward.
In a scathing report in April, the department found that the Minneapolis Police Department had engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination. Investigators found that Minneapolis police were more likely to arrest or use force against residents of color, and that it was common for officers to use harmful or abusive language.
The Department of Human Rights opened an investigation into Minneapolis police just days after the 2020 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. City officials disputed parts of those findings and skipped two meetings with the state. But the two sides say they have agreed on a statement of principles to guide the talks.
The department wants to negotiate a consent decree with the city, which would require the Minneapolis Police Department to make specific changes to policies and practices. It would be enforced by the courts and overseen by an independent monitor.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that he welcomed the opportunity to “work together to get it right.”
“We all want to make sure we’re addressing and solving current issues and changing our culture for generations to come,” Frey said.
A Minnesota Department of Human Rights spokesperson said agency officials are eager to tackle “race-based policing that undermines public safety in Minneapolis.”
The two-page agreement pledges to negotiate a binding settlement, but acknowledges that “changes will not happen overnight.” The parties agree to focus on police use of force, traffic enforcement, training and accountability systems, including disciplinary systems. It will also cover “organizational culture within the MPD, community trust, agent well-being and support, and data collection and transparency.”
The agreement between Minneapolis and the state Department of Human Rights sets the goal of reaching an agreement this fall.
Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins said in a statement that she was encouraged by the continued collaboration with the Department of Human Rights.
“For years, our black and brown residents have told us about the racism they face daily at the hands of the MPD,” Jenkins said. “I am ready to work with anyone who is ready to fight for justice, fairness and fair treatment for all.”
The US Department of Justice is also investigating the Minneapolis Police Department. The parties have agreed that any federal consent decree entered into with the city allows them to vary the state settlement to ensure there is no conflict.