DPS releases independent review of state’s response to 2020 civil unrest

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The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) has released an independent, external review of the state’s response to the civil unrest and rioting following George Floyd’s murder in May 2020.

The DPS contracted with Wilder Research for the independent review, and, according to DPS Commissioner John Harrington, issued the request in September 2020.

The report noted during the unrest that followed Floyd’s death, local police and emergency responders were unable respond to many calls for help “either because they couldn’t safely access the area or were too overwhelmed.”

Additionally, though agencies such as the Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, the Minnesota National Guard, along with other state-level agencies “were better equipped to respond to this particular crisis than local jurisdictions due to their training, equipment, and number of officers,” the report claims those agencies still “did not have experience responding to a large-scale civil disturbance and extended period of civil unrest such as what occurred in Minneapolis after Mr. Floyd’s murder.”

The report also addressed the strengths and areas for improvement in evaluating the Multi-Agency Command Center setup and operations, law enforcement coordination and strategies, fire and life safety response, support for local jurisdictions, communication to the public, as well as community and media experience.

In the areas for improvement evaluation, the report noted a lack of communication between city leaders and law enforcement officials as well as among agencies, an inability at times to differentiate between lawful and unlawful protesters, and the utilization of tactics that were often perceived as escalating.

View the complete report below or here.

In response to the report, Harrington wrote in a letter to Gov. Tim Walz the DPS has begun certain changes and requests, including:

  • Budget requests for additional resources and training investments
  • Better communication and coordination with community groups and local elected leaders
  • Accountability measures to address use-of-force encounters
  • Efforts to “reimagine policing, community safety, and public-order policing” in the state
  • Efforts to improve mental health and wellness resources for officers

View Harrington’s letter below or here.

In response to the report, Walz’s office issued the following statement:

“Governor Walz has reviewed the recommendations and Commissioner Harrington’s progress report outlining the work the Department of Public Safety has done to improve the State’s response to civil unrest. As with every review that has been conducted, the Governor and state leaders will take a close look at the findings and use them to help inform future work.

“The Governor has also proposed and traveled the state discussing a comprehensive public safety plan – including $300 million directly to first responders and local law enforcement agencies – in an effort to improve the State’s ability to manage public safety challenges in the future. As outlined in Commissioner Harrington’s letter to the Governor, it’s imperative that the legislature pass the Governor’s plan to improve the State’s ability to respond to civil unrest.

This latest report joins an after-action review previously presented to the Minneapolis City Council earlier this month. The Minnesota National Guard also released an after-action report following the unrest.

Reporter Eric Chaloux is analyzing this report Thursday; stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates.