Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Attorney General Garland. I want to thank the city and MPD for their cooperation with our investigation. And I want to express my sincere gratitude to the many, many community members who shared their experiences with us during the investigation.
We opened this investigation following the tragic murder of George Floyd three years ago. And what we found is a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct that has compromised MPD’s ability to serve and protect the people of Minneapolis. The findings laid out in today’s report are troubling.
I know this community is still hurting, and in today’s announcement may also open up old wounds. There is nothing that I can say today that will undo the wrongs of the past. But I can tell you the Justice Department is committed to working with Minneapolis on a path forward to constitutional policing and stronger police-community trust.
I want to acknowledge that the city and MPD have made some important changes already. They didn’t not wait for this report to start the reform process.
I am also pleased that the Justice Department and the city have reached an Agreement in Principle, in which we commit to negotiate a court-enforceable, independently monitored consent decree, to be filed in federal court. Through this Agreement, the city and MPD have shown their commitment to moving expeditiously on reforms aimed at remedying the problems that we’ve have identified. And I commend them for taking this step.
The consent decree will provide a pathway to lasting change in Minneapolis. In negotiating and developing the decree, we will seek input from community members, police officers and city employees. The consent decree will require a transparent reform process, so all of you can see evidence of change and evaluate progress for yourselves.
Through decades of experience, we have learned – and I have seen firsthand – that consent decrees can lead to real and lasting change. Most recently, our approach has led to significant improvement in Seattle, Albuquerque and Baltimore, including notable declines in use of force.
But consent decrees are only not the tool to achieve constitutional policing. The department also supports communities and law enforcement agencies through grant programs and technical assistance.
For example, we fund public safety and behavioral health partnerships aimed at reducing justice system involvement and diverting individuals with mental health or substance use disorders to treatment. Our grant funds are supporting the Minneapolis Behavioral Health and Wellness Clinic, which serves as a crisis stabilization and drop-off center for law enforcement officers to help divert individuals to care and away from arrest.
Before I close, I want to address the city’s settlement agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). The Justice Department’s investigation is separate and independent from the MDHR investigation.
MDHR investigated whether the city and MPD engaged in systemic discriminatory practices in violation of state law. In our investigation, we identified racial discrimination in violations of federal law. In addition, we investigated allegations of discrimination against people with disabilities, the use of excessive force and the police response to those involved in expressive activities, including members of the media. As I said earlier, we expect that we will negotiate a federal consent decree enforceable in federal court. MDHR’s court-enforceable agreement with the city has been filed in state court. We commit to working collaboratively with MDHR and the city with the shared goal of creating meaningful and sustainable reform for the people of Minneapolis.
To the men and women of MPD: We recognize the challenges you face, the difficulties of your job, here and across the country. We know that police officers risk their lives every day in the line of duty. And we know that the city and your command staff owe you the support and clear policies and training. And we know that you need the public’s trust to do your jobs effectively and keep your community safe.
To the people of Minneapolis: Police reform does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without you. It will take time, focused effort and sustained commitment. In the months ahead, we will need this entire community to help us craft solutions that will result in real and lasting change here in Minneapolis. Together we can build a Minneapolis that protects the rights, safety and dignity of all.
I will now welcome Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, to discuss the findings of our investigation in greater detail.