Minneapolis, MDHR officially reopen applications for independent evaluator
We may not know who will oversee court-ordered reform of the Minneapolis Police Department for months. The City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights reopened applications this week for teams seeking to be the independent evaluator, which will hold the department accountable as it implements changes.
In mid-July, a judge approved a court enforceable agreement between the MDHR and the city. It required them to pick a team of independent evaluators within 120 days, by Nov. 10.
According to the agreement, the same independent evaluator will oversee both the state court order and the anticipated federal consent decree. It also requires the MDHR and the city to get feedback from the Department of Justice in the selection process.
Last week, a judge approved the parties’ request to extend the deadline from November to March. The city and the MDHR reopened the application process on Monday. Requirements were added to ensure the monitoring team “has the necessary qualifications to address both the state and federal findings,” according to the MDHR.
“It’s really important to us that we have an excellent monitor in place,” said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality.
The city initially put out a request for proposals in May, before the agreement was approved by the court. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked the city why it didn’t update the requirements in July when the agreement was signed, but the city did not provide a response.
“The city put out an RFP before the ink was dry, before it was even signed by a judge,” Gross said. “It was strange to us.”
Six groups submitted applications, according to data acquired by 5 INVESTIGATES. The candidates are a mix of local and national law firms and groups, including BakerHostetler, Dorsey & Whitney, Gomez Oversight Group, Greene Espel, The CNA Corporation, and Unity Community Mediation Team.
“We’re glad the process has been re-opened so there’s the chance for other groups to apply,” said Gross. “It’s really important to us that the team be independent of the city, that they have a history of engaging with the community in powerful and meaningful ways and that they have a good skill set on the team; people who can analyze data and understand statistics, people who understand police practices and change cultures.”
According to the state, the six organizations will have the opportunity to submit an updated proposal. If they choose not to make changes, their original application will still be considered.
“We are going to resubmit,” said Ian Bethel, the chair of Unity Community Mediation Team.
He explained they plan to add information about law enforcement and legal experts they’ll consult with if selected as the independent monitor.
“I think the extension will help the community,” Bethel said.
Unity Community Mediation Team has been working with the City of Minneapolis for years to shape police reforms, according to Bethel. He hopes the state and Department of Justice will consider the memorandum of understanding between UCMT and MPD signed in August 2022 as it moves forward.
“We have something really that can be more of a historical footprint for policing and community relations that this country has never seen,” Bethel said. “Transparency and transformation and accountability and consequences is what must happen with both the Minneapolis Police Department, the city and our community.”