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Minneapolis has spoken: Independent evaluator chosen for MPD

Effective Law Enforcement For All group will monitor MPD by completing the recommendations in the two consent decrees.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
Minneapolis police car in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Friday July 7, 2023. Effective Law Enforcement for All has been chosen as a monitor to oversee Minneapolis Police operations and behavior.

The City of Minneapolis hired the nonprofit Effective Law Enforcement For All on Feb. 2 to monitor the Minneapolis police as an independent evaluator to ensure the department is meeting the requirements of its two court-enforceable consent decrees. 

Effective Law Enforcement For All (ELE4A) aims to help reform law enforcement around the United States by partnering with public leaders and police departments. ELE4A previously worked with the New Orleans Police Department and helped navigate their consent decree process. 

The City and Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) chose ELE4A as a part of the state and federal court-enforceable agreements, also known as consent decree agreements. 

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is under a court-enforceable agreement with MDHR requiring MPD to reshape their operations, such as police training and de-escalation techniques. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also entered a consent decree with the department and outlined 28 remedial measures for MPD’s compliance with federal and constitutional law. 

Both consent decrees came after separate investigations by the DOJ and MDHR in 2023. The investigations detailed unlawful racial discrimination and unnecessary use of excessive force by MPD. 

David Douglass, leader of ELE4A and deputy monitor for the New Orleans Police Department, said ELE4A’s role is to oversee MPD’s progress toward implementing the decrees’s requirements and provide technical assistance. The group plans to lend its expertise with practices such as police training, policies and use of force techniques. 

“We have deep experience with the substantive elements of law enforcement, as well as expertise working with communities and facilitating partnerships between police departments and communities,” Douglass said. 

According to Douglass, maintaining accountability to the public and transparency to the agreements are critical in ELE4A’s role to ensure systematic change in MPD and a relationship with the community. 

“I see our role as a coach,” Douglass said. “It’s not just to monitor the police department, but to help it succeed. That’s why our expertise is so valuable.”

In a statement to The Minnesota Daily, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said selecting an independent evaluator is a necessary step to make a positive change in MPD. O’Hara added that although the monitor’s staff is small, they are dedicated and committed to this process. 

“We will go beyond any court-ordered reforms so that we truly make change real for all people in all of our communities,” O’Hara said. “We will rebuild the Minneapolis Police Department to be the finest police service in America.”

President of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) Michelle Gross said the most important thing ELE4A could do is engage with the community and decipher what they want to see happen. Gross added there needs to be more transparency to build a relationship between MPD and the community. 

“The community needs to remain at the head of the table while this goes on,” Gross said. 

Marquita Stephens, president of Urban League, said MPD’s internal process needs to create clear pathways to holding people responsible for their malpractice. Stephens added that transparency and accountability go hand in hand, and MPD needs to be transparent about its actions and future reforms so the community and ELE4A can hold them accountable. 

“We want to have confidence in our police,” Stephens said. “To the extent they violate that confidence with action, which means essentially that they’re violating their oath of office, then there needs to be an accountability system in place that addresses that.”

Douglass said besides ELE4A’s expertise, an important aspect of their work is fostering a connected community and ensuring their voices are heard during this process. Douglass added that the group has already met with community members and groups and is impressed with their routine engagement. 

“Minneapolis really has experienced unique trauma,” Douglass said. “But what has so impressed us, despite that, is how much energy there is to all segments of the community and the police department to move to a new chapter.” 

According to Gross, CUAPB has previously held community meetings to help educate and discuss the two consent degrees on MPD. CUAPB then asked the attendees to share their experiences with MPD, and those reports were shared with the DOJ and MDHR to help inform their consent decrees. 

“The most important thing they have to do is, again, figure out what the community wants, what’s important to the community, and make sure that those things actually happen,” Gross said. 

Stephens said Urban League did a series of meetings with the community and interviews with the DOJ investigators to help inform the DOJ consent decree. Stephens added she hopes the monitor will seek community engagement similarly but also consider how expansive the Minneapolis community is. 

“They have to be concerned not just with the residents of Minneapolis,” Stephens said. “Minneapolis is a destination city, so people come here to live, work, and play. You have to widen your net in terms of getting input from people about their experience here.”

Gross said she expects this process to take at least a decade and expects the monitor agreement to be renewed multiple times. Gross added that not only should the monitor expect to stay for the long run but so should the community. 

“Everybody needs to be involved. This isn’t like, don’t sit back and wait for it,” Gross said. “This isn’t something that requires people to have expertise. They just have to know what they want their community to look like.” 

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  • Ken DeYoe
    Feb 23, 2024 at 8:53 am

    I am curious as to the Louisiana decree and their police’s opinion of working with this group.