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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Thursday June 20th 2024

MDHR Settlement Response:

Consent decree falls short and keeps power out of community hands; we need an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Commission to permanently reign in the abuses of MPD

By Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar and Minneapolis for Community Control of Police

On March 31st, the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) signed a consent decree to address human rights violations by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). While the agreement lays out some much-needed policy changes, ultimately the power dynamics of the city are left unchanged.


This plan hinges on the Police Chief having the will to carry out meaningful changes; however, at the end of the day, the Chief reports directly to the Community Safety Commissioner, an unelected bureaucrat, and the Mayor, who misleadingly campaigned on a no-knock warrant ban just months before Amir Locke was murdered during a no-knock warrant raid. Now they are asking for blind trust from a community that has borne the brunt of racist and violent policing for decades.


MDHR’s investigation highlights what we already know: that left to its own devices, the MPD will avoid accountability and reparative action at all costs. How can the communities who lost Jamar Clark, Terrance Franklin, Justine Damond, Travis Jordan, George Floyd, Amir Locke and many others trust the very institution that has inflicted decades of brutality to carry out reforms?


The consent decree outlines policy changes, culture changes, and accountability measures that must be implemented. It offers two forms of oversight: the problematic Community Commission on Police Oversight (CCPO) and an Independent Evaluator team. The CCPO is made up of City Council and mayoral appointees, and the Independent Evaluator will be selected by MDHR and the City and approved by the Court. These mechanisms of oversight are fundamentally undemocratic: appointees are not accountable to the public.


Another fatal flaw of the process is it assumes that the same people who have ignored Minneapolis’s police brutality crisis for decades will suddenly have the discernment to designate appointees that will listen to and implement feedback from the community.


Without empowering community members, especially those most impacted by racist police violence, to lead accountability efforts, we cannot break free from the endless cycle of police abuse and inaction.
There can be no accountability without analysis and punishment of past crimes perpetrated by the MPD. The settlement makes no provisions for firing or disciplining officers based on past records of conduct, and does not offer any plan to investigate alleged abuse or cover ups. It is critical to the safety of the community that officers with documented records of abuse are removed.


This consent decree does not make the police permanently accountable – it only puts them on probation. Someday, the consent decree will be terminated. Then, aside from the advisory-only CCPO, there will be no permanent oversight. A court-appointed Independent Evaluator will monitor the Police Department, but oversight should be permanent, independent, and elected.


For true accountability, the people of Minneapolis need to be steering the process from start to finish, through community control of police.


The Minneapolis Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC) is an all-elected, all-civilian body directly accountable to the people. The CPAC would be enshrined in the Minneapolis Charter, making it difficult to remove or undermine. Civilians, including those who have experienced police violence, will determine MPD policies and enforce disciplinary measures against officers. They will have the power to hire and fire the Chief of Police, set the MPD budget, and remove officers it finds unfit for duty.


Minneapolis for Community Control of Police and Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar are collecting signatures to get CPAC on this year’s ballot. Though no system can transform police into a force for public good, we can create a system in which they are held accountable for the ways they have harmed our communities and prevent further racism and violence.


If you’re interested in enacting permanent, concrete oversight of the MPD, and are registered to vote in Minneapolis, look on our website for the community sites hosting the petition – mpls4ccp.square.site. If you’ve already signed the petition, you can support this critical work by joining our volunteers to collect signatures.

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