MINNEAPOLIS – The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved an agreement with the state to revamp policing, nearly three years after a city officer killed George Floyd.
The state Department of Human Rights issued a blistering report last year that said the police department had engaged in a pattern of race discrimination for at least a decade. City leaders subsequently agreed to negotiate a settlement with the agency.
The City Council approved the court-enforceable agreement Friday on an 11-0 vote, but not before several members expressed harsh criticism of the Minneapolis Police Department and other city leaders over the years.
“The lack of political will to take responsibility for MPD is why we are in this position today,” council member Robin Wonsley said. “This legal settlement formally and legally prevents city leadership from deferring that responsibility anymore. And I hope this settlement is a wake-up call for city leaders, who the public has watched rubber-stamp poor labor contracts, have signed off on endless misconduct settlements, and then shrugged their shoulders when residents asked then why we have a dysfunctional police department.”
The state agency launched its investigation shortly after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes, disregarding the Black man's fading pleas that he couldn't breathe. Floyd's death sparked mass protests that spread around the world. It forced a national reckoning on racial injustice and compelled the Minneapolis Police Department to begin an overhaul.
Chauvin was later convicted of murder. He and three other officers who were at the scene are now serving prison terms.
Mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero signed the agreement after the council vote and were expected to brief reporters later Friday morning.
The U.S. Department of Justice is still investigating whether Minneapolis police engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination, and that investigation could lead to a separate consent decree with the city.
The state settlement, which still requires court approval, runs over 140 pages. It contains sections governing the use of force; stops, searches and arrests; the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras; training; officer wellness; responding to mental health and behavioral crises; and others. It also requires the appointment of an independent evaluator to monitor compliance.