The city of Minneapolis on Friday agreed to reorganize the city’s police department nearly three years after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a White police officer sparked protests and scrutiny of law enforcement biases across the country.
The deal with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights calls for the city and police to “make changes to their organizational culture” and address “race-based policing,” the state agency said in a release.
“Minneapolis community members deserve to be treated with humanity,” MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said. “This court enforceable agreement provides the framework for lawful, non-discriminatory policing, reduces unnecessary dangers for officers, and results in better public safety for Minneapolis.”
Floyd was killed on Memorial Day 2020 as former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. The scene was captured on amateur video and shown throughout the world, and the killing launched protests against police violence against Black people in cities across the country.
A state investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department launched after Floyd’s death revealed a pattern of “discriminatory, race-based policing” by officers going back a decade, according to a report released in April 2022.
Lucero, whose agency’s probe determined the city of Minneapolis and its police engaged in a “pattern or practice of race discrimination,” at the time lambasted the organizational culture of a department marred by “flawed training which emphasized a paramilitary approach to policing,” a lack of accountability and the failure of police leaders to address racial disparities.
The report painted a damning picture of policing in Minneapolis, where, according to Lucero, Black residents represent about 19% of the population yet 78% of all police searches from 2017 to 2020 involved Black residents and their vehicles.
The agreement announced Friday, filed with Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District Court by the state agency and the city, is the result of the MDHR investigation.
In a statement on Friday, Floyd’s attorneys said the “monumental” agreement was “the culmination of years of heartbreak and advocacy by those impacted by the poor policies and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department.”
“The insightful and painful Minnesota Human Rights report released last year gave clear and troubling insight into the need for comprehensive reform, and we as civil rights attorneys who have fought in Minneapolis for justice, accountability, and change are pleased by both the recognition of deeply entrenched policing problems, as well as clear steps on the path to constitutional policing in Minneapolis,” attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms said in the statement.
Mayor Jacob Frey said in a press conference Friday the agreement “helps us to embark on the work and then push it even further.”
At the time the report was released Frey said he “found the contents to be repugnant, at times horrific.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in a statement on Friday praised the agreement, saying it was “an important step, but let’s not lose sight of the work left to do – this is the beginning of a process to restore trust and ensure public safety for all.”
CNN has reached out to Minneapolis police for comment.
The city of Minneapolis agreed in 2021 to pay Floyd’s estate $27 million to settle a lawsuit with his family.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in April 2021. Three other former officers also were convicted in the case.
Here’s some of what the deal will change
As part of the agreement, the city and MPD will have “to set and enforce clear policies” and prioritize “organizational culture change to strengthen public safety by requiring the City and/or MPD to provide training, engagement, accountability, and data collection for all policy changes,” according to the MDHR release.
Among other provisions, the release says the deal will:
The agreement does not prohibit an officer from relying on “reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity to enforce the law,” the release says.
It “prioritizes organizational culture change to strengthen public safety by requiring the City and/or MPD to provide training, engagement, accountability, and data collection for all policy changes,” including officer training and support, meaningful engagement, accountability and oversight, and data collection and transparency.
Lucero said the agreement is unprecedented because it makes the city’s public safety policies accountable to a court.
“It is going to take all of us – city and state government, yes, but also foundations, businesses, community members, all of us – to tackle the structural, transformational shifts that must happen for lasting change to occur,” Lucero said.
She said the agreement requires independent oversight of the policies to “monitor their progress, and provide regular, public reports.”
City Council President Andrea Jenkins said the settlement “represents a road map for greater accountability, transparency, better training, and police officer wellness. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
In November 2021, Minneapolis voters rejected a plan to allow a sweeping law enforcement overhaul by eliminating the city police minimum staffing requirement and giving the city council greater control of law enforcement. They also reelected Frey, who refused to commit to abolishing the police. Instead, he said he wanted to ensure an integrated approach to public safety, hire more community-oriented officers, build safety beyond policing, and get serious about reform on a “multi-jurisdictional level.”