Community meets finalists to oversee Minneapolis Police court-ordered reforms
The three teams hoping to oversee the court-mandated reforms within the Minneapolis Police Department made their case to dozens of people at a University of Minnesota auditorium on Tuesday.
The state court-enforceable order requires the independent evaluation team to support the city and MPD as they make the required changes, track the progress of the implementation and provide regular reports. After four years, the independent evaluator will provide a “comprehensive termination evaluation,” which will determine whether the agreement ends or continues.
Teams from Effective Law Enforcement For All, Jensen Hughes and Relman Colfax each outlined their priorities before the public had the opportunity to ask questions. Each emphasized the importance of community engagement as the court-enforceable settlement agreement between MPD and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and anticipated federal consent decree, move forward.
“We are committed to and confident we can help the City of Minneapolis achieve the goals set forth in the agreement,” said David Douglass, the president of Effective Law Enforcement For All.
Effective Law Enforcement For All is a non-profit with offices in Silver Spring, Maryland and New Orleans, Louisiana. Douglass, as well as members of his team, have been involved in implementing consent decrees in New Orleans and Baltimore.
Jensen Hughes is a global law enforcement consulting firm that completed an after-action report for the City of Minneapolis of its response to the unrest after George Floyd’s murder.
“We have an understanding of how the department operates and we have an understanding of your experiences,” said Sydney Roberts, who would serve as the team’s deputy monitor if it’s selected.
The firm’s team members also shared experiences working to reform police departments in Bakersfield and San Francisco, California.
Relman Colfax is a Washington D.C.-based civil rights law firm whose team members include former Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mike Davis and well-known community member and Metro State University Associate Professor Dr. Raj Sethuraju.
“I have been in the streets working with people who have been harmed, and hurt, disproportionately are Black and Indigenous communities and trans communities,” said Sethuraju.
Angie Wolf, who’s overseeing the Department of Justice consent decree in Los Angeles County, is also a member of the team.
Emotions ran high as community members had the chance to start asking questions. One person interrupted the moderator to question why community leaders didn’t have the chance to meet with the finalists prior to the public meeting, while another pressed the finalists about their records reforming other departments.
“I’m here to hold them accountable and to keep them honest and to ask them tough questions,” said Angela Williams, who lives in Minneapolis.
She raised concerns the reforms in other cities that each finalist touted didn’t ultimately address racial disparities in a meaningful way.
“They have to really explain the work that they did,” she said.
These three finalists were selected after the city re-opened its request for proposals in September, extending the deadline to select a team from November to March. The initial six applicants from the first round were not selected.
“I would’ve liked to read the other proposals,” said Williams, who asked the city and state to be diligent as they make a selection. “I’m okay if they have to keep looking. […] If it takes time, it takes time because it’s the community we’re trying to protect.”
The City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will select the independent monitor whose contract will need City Council approval. Work is expected to begin at the beginning of March.
A second public meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Plymouth Congregational Church.