Justice Department agrees to review city’s response to 4th Precinct protests

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office announced today that it has agreed to do an independent review of the city’s response to protests following the shooting death of Jamar Clark in North Minneapolis.

COPS Office Director Ronald Davis applauded Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau for asking for the review.

City leaders have faced sharp criticism from activists and others in the community for how police interacted with protesters during the 18-day occupation of the MPD’s 4th Precinct after the fatal police shooting of Clark on Nov. 15.

“An after-action review of a high-profile incident can provide lessons learned, both positive and negative, that are extremely beneficial to the more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the nation,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “It is critical that city leaders are open to examining their own actions and practices and commit to making improvements wherever possible.”

The COPS office will provide technical assistance to the MPD through its Critical Assistance Response Technical Assistance Program and use “subject matter experts” to examine the police response to protests.

“I am proud that the occupation ended as peacefully as possible, and we need to know where we could have done better,” Hodges said. “This assessment will have value not only for Minneapolis, but for cities around the country.”

Harteau agreed and called the 4th Precinct protests a “unique and complex situation.”

“This gives us a tremendous opportunity to study the event and its impacts through a variety of viewpoints; evaluating experiences through the eyes of community members, protesters, officers, and residents who live near the 4th Precinct,” she said.

The COPS office also did an after-action assessment on the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the Clark case and recently sought more information from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the incident.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has said he would like to decide whether to pursue charges in the case by the end of March.