Minneapolis, Department of Human Rights pick nonprofit to oversee court-ordered policing reforms

Minneapolis, Department of Human Rights pick nonprofit to oversee court-ordered policing reforms

Minneapolis, Department of Human Rights pick nonprofit to oversee court-ordered policing reforms

Members of Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights and leaders in the City of Minneapolis have agreed on who will be overseeing the compliance of a settlement agreement involving both the city and the city’s police department.

The city and the state’s civil rights enforcement agency announced Friday morning that Effective Law Enforcement for All, known as ELEFA, will be the independent evaluator to oversee the court-ordered policing reforms, report on the compliance with settlement terms and give the city help on various items, such as policy drafting and training content.

The nonprofit was chosen after what the city says was a competitive request for proposals. Three teams were selected to provide a public presentation and answer community questions last month. The selection was initially supposed to have been made three months ago but the city and state agency filed for an extension.

“It is essential to have a highly qualified, independent monitor to ensure that the City and MPD center and prioritize a culture of continuous learning based on humanity and civil rights – Effective Law Enforcement for All is that team. With Minneapolis being the first city in the country to be subject to both a state and a federal consent decree to address discriminatory policing practices, this is an important moment in the long road ahead,” said Rebecca Lucero, commissioner for the state’s Department of Human Rights. “Effective Law Enforcement for All is the right team for this moment in history to provide the immediate support and oversight necessary for the coming years to achieve meaningful and lasting progress.”

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Previously, the nonprofit has worked to monitor decrees with the police departments for both New Orleans and Baltimore, and done related decree work in Phoenix, Cleveland, Los Angeles and in Puerto Rico.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council are expected to vote on a contract in the near future, and if approved, ELEFA will begin its work sometime next month. After starting, the nonprofit will have 90 days to create an evaluation plan, which will guide its evaluation of the city’s compliance.

State officials say the Department of Justice provided input throughout the monitor selection process.

Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette and Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara also provided prepared statements Friday on the decision:

“This is a critical step in our commitment and collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. We are looking forward to beginning this work with ELEFA as the selected Independent Evaluator and connecting and engaging with our community in our progress.”

Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette

“I came to the Minneapolis Police Department to make positive change. The selection of an Independent Evaluator is a necessary step in that process, and I am confident the Independent Evaluator will learn exactly what I did about the people of the MPD today – they are a very small but highly dedicated staff who are deeply committed to getting this right. We will go beyond any court ordered reforms so that we truly make change real for all people in all of our communities. We will rebuild the Minneapolis Police Department to be the finest police service in America.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara

As reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last July, a consent decree — also known as a court-enforceable settlement agreement — for the two entities was signed by Judge Karen Janisch, months after it was approved by members of the city council.

RELATED: Minneapolis City Council approves significant reform to police department

The agreement follows a multi-year state investigation that found the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a “pattern and practice of race discrimination”. It includes additional requirements for supervisors and how they will have increased access to body-worn cameras, as well as a new focus on the well-being of officers.

Among the major overhauls in that agreement include addressing pretextual stops, as well as restrictions on less lethal uses of force – including rubber bullets, chemical irritants and Tasers.

After four years, the independent evaluator will provide a “comprehensive termination evaluation,” which will determine whether the agreement ends or continues.

RELATED: Minneapolis prepares to spend millions to carry out federal consent decree

The investigation into the city’s police department followed the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Four former Minneapolis police officers — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were charged and convicted in his murder.

Chauvin is serving 22½ years in prison at the state level for a second-degree murder conviction, and more than 20 years in federal prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Lane was sentenced to three years in prison but got 31 days of credit for time previously served. He is also serving two-and-a-half years in federal prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights, as well as two years of supervised release.

Kueng was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in state prison and has a three-year sentence in federal prison.

Thao’s 57-month state sentence will run concurrently with his three-and-a-half-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

CLICK HERE to learn more about ELEFA. CLICK HERE for KSTP’s full George Floyd coverage.