The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved Chief Brian O’Hara’s plan to split the Minneapolis Police Department into two bureaus, one to handle police operations, and the other to help build community trust. Two deputy police chiefs will lead each bureau, and Chief O’Hara said he plans to hire from within the department.
The new leadership structure is needed to enact reforms and establish a law enforcement standard that better serves the community, says O’Hara.
Last month, the city of Minneapolis settled a court-enforceable agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to reform the MPD. There are also ongoing negotiations for a consent decree with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a result of the agency’s two-year investigation into the MPD following the murder of George Floyd and the outcry that followed. The DOJ found that the city of Minneapolis and MPD engaged in discriminatory practices that deprived African Americans and Native Americans of their rights.
Chief O’Hara also announced that a new webpage for community feedback and information has been launched on the city of Minneapolis’ website. The MPD will also host a series of community engagement sessions designed to gather public input regarding policy and procedures.
“This is a start to giving our community members tangible opportunities to voice their opinions, give meaningful input, and have an impact on the policies and practices of their police department,” said Chief O’Hara in a statement. “These sessions are important not only to begin this reform process but also so that people may begin to heal and that we may find a way to move forward together.”
The first session will take place on Tuesday, August 15. The gathering will cover existing policies and updates, and attendees will be able to offer input in shaping selected MPD policies, training curricula, and value statements.
The two-hour sessions will include an informal discussion of the topic, guest speakers, and breakout groups. Beginning with policies related to the use of force, upcoming sessions over the following three weeks will cover stops, searches, and arrests, non-discriminatory policing, and the MPD’s mission, vision, values, and goals statements. Find the full schedule of dates and topics here.
The MPD announcement comes at a time of mounting calls from the community for accountability in yet another shooting death of a Black man, Ricky Cobb II, who was shot and killed by a state trooper during a July 31 traffic stop in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Cobb’s killing.