In response to longstanding systemic issues, policing around the country is evolving.
Many people know of the events of May 25, 2020. On that day, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered in South Minneapolis while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. All four former police officers on the scene are now serving prison time.
Well before the trials concluded, city and community members came together to work on a plan for an equitable society, and many new public/private alliances have been formed. The common goal has been to reexamine police policies and procedures, as well as reduce violence through prevention, intervention and healing.
Does Minneapolis have a police department?
Yes, Minneapolis has a police department. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) currently has 571 officers, including 496 officers assigned to the patrol division, the unit that answers 911 emergency calls. MPD's funding allows for up to 731 sworn officers in 2023.
How much funding is allocated for police and public safety?
Funds for 731 sworn officers in the Police Department and 4 classes of new recruits in each year of the budget, additionally investing $8.6 million for overtime and $1.5 million for contracting with other law enforcement entities
Expands the Behavioral Crisis Response program with a $1.45 million investment in 2023 and $2.9 million in 2024, helping provide unarmed, mental health professionals as responders in behavioral health crisis situations – bringing the ongoing annual investment in this work to over $6.4 million by 2024
Adds new staff positions to the City Attorney's office to improve charging decisions made on city criminal cases, and to dedicate staff to address findings identified in the Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation
What changes or enhancements have been made to public safety in Minneapolis?
Since 2020, enhanced funding has been allocated for different public safety programs, departments and initiatives, such as:
Mental Health Co-Responder Program
Community Group Outreach and Intervention
Gang Violence Intervention
Hospital Based Intervention
911 Training on assessing and responding to mental health issues and situations
De-escalation and restorative justice training
Moving all parking related calls to Traffic Control
Assigning non-police staff to respond to theft and property damage calls
Additional violence prevention program funding has included:
Additional violence interrupters
Trauma and de-escalation response
Expanded group violence intervention programming
Grant funds for youth and community public safety programs
Portable camera and lighting
Behavioral crisis response vans
What is being done to advance police reform?
In 2022, the City of Minneapolis added the role of Community Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner oversees the Office of Community Safety, which integrates five departments: 911, Fire, the Office of Emergency Management, Police, and Neighborhood Safety (formerly known as the Office of Violence Prevention). The Commissioner leads the strategic planning necessary for the development of the City’s comprehensive approach to community safety.
In October 2023, Hennepin County Chief Judge Todd Barnette was confirmed as the City’s next Community Safety Commissioner. Barnette will focus on strengthening internal partnerships between the five safety departments, collaborating closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and coordinating comprehensive and integrated safety strategies alongside external businesses and community leaders. The position is a four-year appointed term.
In November 2022, the Minneapolis City Council approved Mayor Jacob Frey's nomination of Newark Deputy Mayor Brian O’Hara to serve as the next Minneapolis Chief of Police.
As part of the mayor’s Community Safety Work Group, leaders have outlined recommendations related to police and public safety reform such as:
Improving oversight and coordination within the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD)
Strengthening the recruitment process
Improving the quality of MPD training
Strengthening MPD’s disciplinary and accountability systems
The Community Safety Work Group also advanced recommendations related to community safety, violence prevention and intervention such as:
Expanding services and programs
Evaluating and reporting on service and program effectiveness
Coordinating and prioritizing community safety among and within City departments and across jurisdictions
Expanding Minneapolis’ Behavioral or Mental Health Crisis Response Strategy
Have any policing changes taken place?
Yes, changes implemented by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) in the last two-plus years include:
Banning neck restraints or choke holds for any reason.
Requiring MPD officers to use the lowest level of force needed to safely engage a subject and to first consider all reasonable alternatives before using deadly force.
Requiring any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any prohibited force, or inappropriate or unreasonable force to attempt to safely intervene by verbal and physical means.
Requiring any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any unauthorized use of force to immediately report the incident while still on scene to their commander or their commander’s superiors.
Requiring the police chief to make timely discipline decisions.
Allowing only the police chief or the chief’s designee at the rank of deputy chief or above to authorize the use of crowd control weapons during protests and demonstrations.
Not allowing officers involved in critical incidents – including the use of deadly force – to review body camera footage prior to completing an initial police report.
Prohibiting the application for, and execution of, all no-knock (unannounced) search warrants.
Requiring officers to repeatedly knock and announce their presence and purpose prior to entry with a minimum wait time of 20 seconds for all warrants and 30 seconds for warrants executed during nighttime hours (8 p.m. until 7 a.m.).
Not allowing officers to deactivate their body camera to discuss issues privately on scene while an event is still in progress.
Ceasing pretextual stops for offenses like expired tabs, an item dangling from a mirror or inoperable license plate lights.
Banning "warrior style" training for officers both on and off duty.
Requiring all MPD personnel, sworn and civilian, to have ongoing procedural justice and implicit bias training.
Utilizing a new field training officer (FTO) coordinator to manage the transformation of substantial changes to the structure of the FTO program, including centralized oversight, increased and ongoing discipline review for FTOs, and new on-the-job monitoring technology to track the daily performance of officers in training and the types of calls responded to, and electronically store and track tasks completed.
What do the consent decrees in Minneapolis mean for policing in the city?
On March 31, 2023, the City of Minneapolis entered into a court-enforceable consent decree agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, mandating changes to the Minneapolis Police Department after a 72-page report found a pattern of discriminatory behavior by Minneapolis officers over the decade leading up to Floyd's killing.
In response, the Minneapolis City Council approved a wide-ranging series of reforms to settle the state's case, including limiting the use of chemical irritants and barring officers from searches based on the smell of marijuana.
The court-enforceable agreement features 13 parts, including training, use of force, nondiscriminatory policing, and accountability and oversight. The settlement agreement was approved and issued as a court order by a Hennepin County judge on July 13, 2023.
On June 16, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 92-page report detailing the findings of an investigation into discriminatory policing by the Minneapolis Police Department that was launched after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Among the findings in the report, the department uses excessive force, including unjustified deadly force; unlawfully discriminates against Black and Native American people, and violates the rights of people engaged in protected free speech.
The City of Minneapolis will now begin the process of negotiating a court-enforceable consent decree with the Justice Department. The federal decree will take precedence if a conflict arises with the state's consent decree.
Negotiations on the terms of the federal consent decree could take several months or up to a year to finalize.