U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was in Minneapolis Friday to announce the findings of the federal government’s “pattern or practice” investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
“Our review focused on MPD as a whole, not on the actions of any individual officer. We observed many MPD officers who did their work with professionalism, courage, and respect. But the patterns or practices we observed made what happened to George Floyd possible,” Garland said at a press conference alongside city leaders such as Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Brian O’Hara.
In a 92-page report on its civil investigation, the DOJ says it has “reasonable cause” to believe the city and its police department “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law.”
The report accuses MPD of using excessive force, including “unjustified” deadly force, unlawfully discriminating against black and Native American people, violating the rights of people engaged in protected speech, and discriminating against people with behavioral health disabilities.
“For years, MPD used dangerous techniques and weapons against people who committed at most a petty offense and sometimes no offense at all. MPD used force to punish people who made officers angry or criticized the police. MPD patrolled neighborhoods differently based on their racial composition and discriminated based on race when searching, handcuffing, or using force against people during stops,” the report says. “The City sent MPD officers to behavioral health-related 911 calls, even when a law enforcement response was not appropriate or necessary, sometimes with tragic results. These actions put MPD officers and the Minneapolis community at risk.”
The report also found “persistent deficiencies in MPD’s accountability systems, training, supervision, and officer wellness programs.”
The report includes several remedial measures that will be enforced under a consent decree. The city also recently entered into a settlement agreement with the state Department of Human Rights.
“These findings are a major step in reforming this department into one that provides a level of service that will be a model for law enforcement agencies across the country. Moving forward, we will continue the process of changing the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department to ensure the safety and wellness of our police officers and the residents of this city,” Chief O’Hara said in a statement. “And paramount to this is the rebuilding of trust between this department and the people it serves.”