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Effective Law Enforcement for All, a nonprofit organization that specializes in reshaping police departments to reduce use-of-force incidents, has been chosen to oversee the state and eventual federal consent decrees on policing in Minneapolis.

The group is led by David Douglass, deputy monitor for the city of New Orleans, which has been under a federal consent decree since 2013. It has offices in Louisiana and Maryland. City spokesperson Sarah McKenzie confirmed the selection Friday morning.

As the evaluator for Minneapolis, ELEFA will have the power to determine when the city has achieved sustained, constitutional policing, and its opinion will be considered by Judge Karen Janisch before she eventually lifts the order. The process could take many years, and ELEFA may be paid up to $1.5 million each year. For the duration of the consent decrees, ELEFA will be responsible for reviewing and approving the Minneapolis Police Department's policies, assessing the city's performance and engaging with the public. It will need to post semi-annual progress reports to its website and survey police officers and the community on their satisfaction.

"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," said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, who noted that Minneapolis is the first city in the country to be subject to both a state and a federal consent decree to address discriminatory policing practices.

"By now you've heard us talk about the 'roadmap for change,' and today is another critical stop along the way," said Mayor Jacob Frey. "The ongoing work to reform and rebuild the Minneapolis Police Department will demand a wholesale commitment to collaboration, accountability, and transparency from across this local government."

The selection

ELEFA informed community groups this week that it had risen to the top of a competitive selection process that attracted 20 local and national applicants.

Three finalists flew in to Minneapolis last month to present their credentials at two packed community meetings. During the question and answer periods, Douglass emphasized his group's methodical approach to keeping track of complex reforms and willingness to ask the court to impose sanctions on the city if it demonstrates resistance to change.

"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," said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara. "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."

ELEFA's team in Minneapolis will be co-led by Michael Harrison, a former Baltimore police commissioner and former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department — the only chief in the nation with experience overseeing two departments under federal consent decrees, according to ELEFA's application.

Under Harrison's tenure, New Orleans police began using a new training system designed to prevent police misconduct, reduce mistakes and promote health and wellness. It's now a national program called ABLE, which has been adopted by 370 agencies across the United States. The Minneapolis Police Department began training officers in the ABLE techniques in 2021.

Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the MPD and found over a decade of civil rights abuses, particularly against Black and Native American residents.

Minneapolis entered a court-enforceable settlement agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights last summer. The Department of Justice is still negotiating terms of its consent decree with the city.

What's next

The city's contract with ELEFA is subject to approval by the Minneapolis City Council with an anticipated start date of March 9.

"Reforming MPD cannot occur in isolation," said Council President Elliott Payne. "We must transform our entire governance system so that it consistently recognizes early warning signs of problematic conduct, earns the trust of the community, and includes the necessary corrective actions to restore trust when that trust is broken."

Within 90 days of assuming the job, ELEFA will have to come up with a plan to implement the first four years of reforms.

In New Orleans, the city and the DOJ have been arguing for years over whether the New Orleans Police Department has completed the terms of its consent decree. The city asserted in 2020 that it had achieved and sustained full compliance with its reforms for two years, but the DOJ disagreed, accusing the city of overlooking recent evidence of backsliding.

The DOJ cited reports from the monitor, ELEFA, describing "troublingly low levels of compliance" by New Orleans police with the consent decree sections covering bias-free stops, searches and arrests. ELEFA also called the city's assertions of compliance "particularly concerning" due to a "questionable use of force against protesters" and an "alleged conspiracy among NOPD officers in the 8th District to provide false testimony concerning an arrest."

Douglass is the deputy monitor for the New Orleans consent decree. Jonathan Aronie, the lead monitor, said Friday: "I cannot think of a better person to lead a project of this importance. I have worked side by side with David for the last decade. He is smart, caring, disciplined and has a passion for finding solutions that are as good for the community as they are for the officers."

He said that while Douglass will continue as deputy monitor in New Orleans, he will reduce his work at their law firm "in order to give the necessary attention to Minneapolis."