On Friday, the city of Minneapolis reached an agreement to make significant reforms to its policing practises. These reforms include a commitment to reduce the amount of force that police officers use and an end to the practise of using the odour of marijuana as a justification to search individuals.
The Minneapolis Police Department was found to have routinely engaged in racially discriminatory practises and failed to punish officers for misconduct in a report that was released by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights last year. The promised changes are a part of a legal settlement between the city and the department, which was reached between the city and the department.
After the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the year 2020, there was a national reckoning over the pervasive racism that exists in law enforcement. The agreement reached on Friday was hailed by state and city officials as a significant step forward in the effort to change the culture of the police force.
The pact is the first of what is anticipated to be two government-mandated plans for making significant changes to the way police is carried out in the city. A second investigation into civil rights violations is being carried out by the Department of Justice, and municipal officials anticipate that this inquiry will result in a consent decree.
In the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s death, the state launched an inquiry, which resulted in the painting of a devastating image of the Police Department.
According to the findings of the investigation, black persons in Minneapolis have a far higher risk of being stopped, detained, and searched than white people do. An analysis of more than 700 hours of film from body cameras showed that officers often used derogatory terms to refer to women and persons of colour. This is a behaviour that is so widespread that it frequently jeopardises legal proceedings.
Chief Brian O’Hara, who assumed command of the troubled police department in November, said that his organisation was aware of the need for revolutionary change and was working to implement it.
According to the officials, the agreement between the city and the state contained certain requirements that the department had previously approved as policy, as well as other measures that were brand new.
The ability of officers to command the seclusion of persons who are very angry will also be removed from their purview. Once Mr. Floyd was killed, the strategy became the subject of more examination.
The agreement has been referred to as “a tremendous weapon for change” by Rebecca Lucero, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The pact also has robust enforcement procedures.
The state and the city intend to forward the 144-page agreement to a state court, which will be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the terms of the accord. Officials from the state and the city will also form an independent committee to assess how well the agreement is being carried out and to provide the public with frequent updates on their findings.
Before writing the agreement, state and municipal officials said that they held extensive consultations with police officers and people of the city. After those consultations, the deal was unanimously adopted by the Minneapolis City Council during a short session on Friday morning.
It was difficult to determine how much support the rank-and-file officers had for the mandate for substantial transformation. A request for an interview with the head of the police union in Minneapolis was made on Friday, but he did not answer.
According to Chief O’Hara, the Police Department has been struggling with an outflow of personnel and a rush of new procedures and supervision that has left officers confused and overloaded since the death of Mr. Floyd.
As the new deal is put into action, it will be necessary for cops to undergo substantial retraining, and there will also be a need for enhancements in information technology, which city officials have estimated would cost tens of millions of dollars.
The necessity to boost the reduced ranks of the Police Department is going to be a significant obstacle in the way of modernising that department.
Prior to the death of Mr. Floyd, Minneapolis had around 910 policemen who held sworn positions. Since then, there has been a substantial increase in the number of resignations and retirements, which has brought the total down to 593 officers as of the beginning of March. This number is much lower than the 731 officers that are needed under the City Charter.
Chief O’Hara said that the city had high hopes of recruiting a new generation of officers, but that it was having difficulty doing so since the department had a soiled image at a time when unemployment was low and there was great competition for talent.
An solicitor for civil rights in Minneapolis named Nekima Levy Armstrong characterised the accord reached on Friday as a start in the right way. On the other hand, she said that generational shifts would take a very long time and need a long-term commitment from all parties involved.