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Court-enforceable Minneapolis Police Department reforms require a monitor. What is that and who will serve in the role?

The monitor will be the eyes and ears of the public and will track the city’s progress in instituting changes outlined in the settlement agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Minneapolis Police Department, 1st Precinct, downtown Minneapolis
Minneapolis Police Department, 1st Precinct, downtown Minneapolis
MinnPost file photo by Peter Callaghan

Last updated at 4:44 p.m. on May 10 to include news that the city sent out a request for proposals for the monitor.

It’s been just over a year since the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) released its report describing the Minneapolis Police Department’s pattern of race discrimination in policing for at least a decade — and just over a month since the Minneapolis City Council approved the court-enforceable settlement agreement between MDHR and the city. 

The 140-page agreement document requires the appointment of a monitor, who will be the eyes and ears of the public. The team of evaluators, or monitor, will keep track of the city’s progress in instituting changes outlined in the agreement and report that progress. But many people still have questions about the monitor’s role — and the community’s — in the process.

Here are some answers to those questions:

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Who is the monitor and what will they be doing?

The monitor, or independent evaluator, will actually be a team of people who will keep track of the city’s and MPD’s compliance and progress in implementing the changes set forth in the agreement. They will report that progress to the city, MDHR and the public.

They’ll also provide technical support to the city, work as a mediator and resolve any disputes that might arise between city and state officials, and engage with Minneapolis residents throughout the process. The prospective candidates will outline in their applications where their team will ask to work, whether space is provided within city hall or at another location.

The agreement outlines that the city must provide a budget of at most $1.5 million per year for the independent evaluator. In its latest budget, the city has allocated $2 million in 2023 and $3 million in 2024 to “respond to the specific actions identified in the Consent Decree.”

What are the requirements for being the monitor?

The qualifications laid out in the agreement include experience related to modern large-city policing practices, changing police policies and culture, and working with diverse communities on issues of public safety. They’re also searching for someone with expertise in oversight, project management, collaboration with governments and producing digestible reports.

Other requirements, like an understanding that “non-discriminatory, constitutional policing creates a stronger public safety system” and “consistently demonstrate professionalism and respect in all interactions with community members, MPD officers, and all others with whom they interact” are also in the agreement. 

The candidates will choose their own teams and provide those choices to the city and MDHR in their applications. The teams will likely consist of individuals who have expertise in each of the criteria outlined by the agreement.

What’s the timeline look like?

The city of Minneapolis sent out a request for proposals (RFP) on Wednesday to solicit applications from potential candidates. The RFP will be available for 30 calendar days, and the city and MDHR will evaluate submissions before agreeing on a number of them to interview. 

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The timing details of the interview and selection process are unclear after that, but the agreement stipulates that the contract between the city and the monitor must be in place within 120 days of when the judge enters the agreement. 

The initial contract will be for two years, then they will renew their contract as long as the agreement is in place. It’s expected the implementation by the city will take longer than that, though it’s unclear exactly how many years.

Who chooses the monitor, the city or the state?

“It’s entirely collaborative,” said MDHR Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. 

MDHR Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman
MDHR Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman
The city sends out the RFP because they will be putting up the $1.5 million budget for the monitor’s work, but both the city and MDHR will select finalists that meet the criteria laid out by the agreement.

According to the agreement, MDHR and the city will agree on three finalists for the role. If they can’t agree, then both entities will choose two finalists each.  

Those finalists will then participate in public presentations in multiple sites around the city. After that they’ll agree on one finalist, but if they can’t agree then they’ll strike out finalists until one remains. 

How did other cities do it?

Vaynerman said uniformly across other cities they have looked at, because the scope of monitoring work is so expansive, teams were chosen over a single independent evaluator. 

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“No single person can serve as the community liaison to engage with community stakeholders in a meaningful way, while also doing statistical reviewed analysis, while also providing technical assistance and support on internal investigations and while also providing you training expertise,” she said. “It would be hard for any person to be able to provide that level of support and that level of expertise in all the areas in which it’s needed for this comprehensive change to move forward.”

How will community members be able to give input?

During the course of their investigation, MDHR officials interviewed and took statements from more than 2,200 community members. After releasing its report last April, the state agency held more than a dozen community listening sessions throughout the summer in partnership with local groups to outline what was in the agreement.

Along the same lines of those engagement efforts, community members will have a role to play in the monitor selection process. After the city and MDHR choose its finalists, those candidates will go before residents via listening sessions at multiple sites around the city. 

“That will be part of the selection process for both MDHR and the city to be able to see what approach does this monitoring team take? What are their areas of expertise? What questions do community members have that the monitors can or cannot answer?” Vaynerman said. “That will deeply inform the selection process, as all pieces here do.”

After the monitor team is selected, they’ll issue reports to the public every six months, but they’ll also continue meeting with community members on a regular basis. According to the agreement, the monitor will put forth a schedule for meetings between the evaluators and the community to provide updates on progress, explain the biannual reports about how implementation is going and to further understand community interactions with MPD, in addition to a formal community survey put out every year. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the monitor does not report to the court.