The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a sweeping plan to reform policing that aims to reverse years of systemic racial bias.
The 11-0 vote means that the public can now read the 144-page settlement agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which charged the city with a pattern of discrimination in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
"This is the legacy of George Floyd," City Council President Andrea Jenkins said shortly before the council voted on the agreement. It restricts aggressive police tactics, seeks to reduce officer misconduct and supports the wellness of cops on the street.
- Officers will no longer be allowed to pull over a driver solely for mechanical issues like a broken tail light.
- The smell of marijuana won't be enough to justify a stop-and-frisk.
- Officers will have a duty to intervene if they see a fellow officer breaking the rules. If they fail to do so, they could be disciplined as severely as the first officer.
Mayor Jacob Frey hailed the agreement, which emerged after months of negotiations between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. He also acknowledged challenges ahead, especially when violent crime flares or officers cross the line.
"There will be moments when some will say that this agreement needs to be pushed aside," Frey said at a morning news conference. "Officers will make mistakes; mistakes themselves shouldn't be a call for the agreement to be undone. We need to make sure we're sticking with the plan."
Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero noted that the city cannot walk away from this legally binding agreement, which will require MPD to undergo transformational changes to its culture.
"Minneapolis residents deserve to be treated with humanity — and this provides the framework for lawful, non-discriminatory policing," Lucero said.
The City Council has often been divided over how to balance the need to rein in abusive police tactics and rebuild community trust — especially among Black residents — with the need to police the city amid high crime that followed the pandemic and Floyd's murder.
But on Friday, the agreement earned the support of all 11 members present — Council Members Lisa Goodman and Emily Koski were absent for unrelated reasons. Still, many mentioned the trauma of what came before, and some of the most vocal police critics described it as merely the first step.
"While this document will do us a lot of good, it's hard for me to say I'm proud of this document because it's a reflection of how wrong things have gone," Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said.
Several council members noted that the public has had no opportunity to comment on the official plan but that community opinions are reflected throughout.
"Frankly, I think this document is a shift in the power dynamic from where it is now where we have one or two people who have power over what happens in our police department," Council Member Aisha Chughtai said.
The plan amounts to a four-year roadmap, although the rules — and enforcement power of the agreement — will likely remain in place for years beyond, City Attorney Kristyn Anderson said.
An "independent evaluator" will be hired and given a $1.5 million budget to oversee implementation, which city Public Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander said would require some 27 full-time employees.
The plan isn't the last word on reform. An ongoing Department of Justice investigation could lead to a similar roadmap for Minneapolis police under the jurisdiction of federal courts.
Any federal consent decree would supersede the plan approved Friday but wouldn't weaken it, officials have said.
Agreement, not 'admission'
Despite approving the agreement, city leaders say it doesn't mean they admit to all of the allegations in the human rights charge.
In a news conference Friday, city and state officials said they still have not reconciled one of the most stunning allegations: That Minneapolis officers used phony social media accounts to spy on Black community members. The officers never operated such accounts to track white supremacist groups, according to the charge.
Last summer, the city's legal team stalled investigations after saying it couldn't substantiate details related to this claim.
Anderson said Friday that the city still does not agree with that allegation, and Lucero stood by her office's charging language. Anderson said the underlying records would not be released to the public, citing data laws.
The agreement alters the city's discipline matrix for police officers who break the rules, but it does not reclassify "coaching" as public data.
Coaching is a form of one-on-one mentoring that the Minneapolis Police Department has used to deal with the majority of substantiated complaints against officers in the past. Critics question whether the department has used coaching as a ruse to hide misconduct from the public.
However, Lucero said the settlement agreement restricts the use of coaching by the department.
"It is not appropriate to coach on anything that is police misconduct — and so under this agreement you can no longer do so," she said.
The plan will be filed in Hennepin County District Court attached to the state's initial allegations last year of a pattern of illegal racial discrimination by police.
The judge assigned to the case will have the power to accept and enforce the agreement.
One of the first steps toward implementing the plan will be hiring the independent evaluator in a process that will involve public meetings where community members can ask questions of finalists.
The position will be advertised within two weeks.
Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.
Read the agreement:
[Can't see this document, click here]