MPD chief preparing department for consent decree

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The Minneapolis police chief is working to shape the department to best handle state and possible federal oversight.

Chief Brian O’Hara feels adding an assistant chief and a chief of staff would benefit the Minneapolis Police Department(MPD) under a consent decree.

In a Minneapolis Policy & Government Oversight Committee meeting last week, Chief O’Hara addressed council members about the positions he is asking them to eventually approve — highlighting the impact they could have as the department works to reform and structure for the future.

“In order to move forward with police reform and [address] the very serious issues we have with crime, as well as the issues that we have with community engagement and trust building in the city, we need people in positions to have that level of accountability,” said Chief O’Hara in the late February meeting.

One of the new positions would be a second assistant police chief — O’Hara says having two will allow one to oversee operations and investigations, while the other can focus on community relations. The second new position is a chief of staff — currently a deputy chief is handling those responsibilities.

“Moving forward in a consent decree, or consent decrees, we will be required to have someone on the deputy chief level who would oversee consent decree implementation, constitutional policing, that type of thing,” O’Hara said.

A consent decree is a legally binding settlement enforced by the court that would direct and track reforms. O’Hara is readying his department following results from a Minnesota Department of Human Rights that found the city of Minneapolis and police department engages in a “pattern or practice of race discrimination.” That investigation was launched after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

“I think people need to understand that we need to have accountability in the department,” Chief O’Hara told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in early March.

“To have that type of accountability, you need people to do the work,” he added.

While it’s not known when a consent decree will be rolled out, a representative with the MDNR sent the following.  

The negotiations between the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the City of Minneapolis to address race-based policing remain ongoing and productive. 


This is all happening as the Department of Justice is investigating the MPD — when the DOJ is finished, they could have their own consent decree.

Because of a series of stories from 5 INVESTIGATES, we know that could take months and could lead to years of oversight costing millions of dollars. In 2021, Kirsten Swanson traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico where a federal consent decree is in place.


As for what’s next in Minneapolis, Chief O’Hara is set to address council members in the March 7 Committee of the Whole meeting about the new positions as well as the “vision, values, goals, and future structure of the department.”

This would also need state legislature approval — Chief O’Hara explained to council members that is because of state law that limits the number of deputy chief the department can have.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the mayor supports the new positions.