The city of Minneapolis is searching for more applicants to serve as the independent monitor of its state and federal consent decrees on policing.
After the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found the Minneapolis Police Department had violated the state constitutional rights of residents over the course of a decade, the state and city entered into a court-enforceable settlement agreement on July 13. Under that consent decree, the city will have to systemically reform its policies and practices under the supervision of a court-appointed, independent evaluator. The initial agreement said that evaluator needed to be in place by Nov. 10.
The city issued a call for applications in May and received six by the deadline one month later.
On June 16, the U.S. Department of Justice released its own findings of how MPD deprived people of their rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The city and federal officials are still negotiating the terms of their consent decree.
Last week, the city and state jointly asked Hennepin County Judge Karen Janisch to extend their deadline for selecting a independent monitor so they can reopen the bidding process and ask applicants to answer how they are qualified to evaluate simultaneous state and federal consent decrees. The judge granted their request on Monday, and the deadline to apply has been extended to Oct. 25.
The teams that applied during the first round will still be considered and can choose to submit an updated proposal, said MDHR spokesman Taylor Putz. The Justice Department will participate in applicant interviews.
After the finalists are identified, the city is expected to host public listening sessions for the community to meet them. The independent evaluator's role will be to monitor MPD's progress, engage with police officers and the community, and provide regular public reports.
The six teams who applied during the first round of bidding are:
Gomez Oversight Group: Run by a former United States district judge of the Virgin Islands, Curtis V. Gomez, this team also applied to be the independent monitor of the city of Springfield, Mass., which made all application materials available for the public to review. Springfield ultimately did not choose the Gomez Oversight Group.
Unity Community Mediation Team: A local group run by Pastor Ian Bethel of New Beginnings Baptist Ministries in south Minneapolis. Bethel is a longtime participant in police reform efforts. UCMT participated in MDHR's investigation of the Minneapolis police, and Bethel criticized the city for not accepting the results after they were released.
CNA Center for Justice Research and Innovation: A Virginia-based team that specializes in assessing law enforcement performance. CNA applies for opportunities to audit police departments across the country and is part of the independent monitoring team overseeing Chicago's consent decree.
Dorsey and Whitney: A large local law firm with a 40-year relationship with the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office, helping prosecute misdemeanor cases up until the murder of George Floyd in 2020. One of its recent pro bono cases involved suing the New Orleans Harbor Police officers for the arrest of a Black Uber driver.
BakerHostetler: A law firm headquartered in Cleveland with 17 offices across the country — none in Minneapolis. The firm provides legal services to corporations on a range of topics from defending businesses against class-action lawsuits to helping companies comply with government regulations. Police accountability is not listed as one of their areas of expertise.
Greene Espel: A small local law firm with a diversity, equity and inclusion practice. Greene Espel investigated the Golden Valley Police Department — finding a culture of racism — and probed Minneapolis city operations officer Heather Johnston — finding allegations that she ran a toxic workplace unsubstantiated.