City leaders seek federal review of response to 4th Precinct protests

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau announced Tuesday that they have made a request to the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office to do an independent review of the city’s response to the 18-day occupation of the MPD’s 4th Precinct station. 

The goal of the review is to gather insights from the experience to help Minneapolis and other cities across the country improve relationships and ensure civil rights are protected in the communities they serve, according to the mayor’s office.

Protesters demonstrated outside the MPD’s 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis following the police shooting death of Jamar Clark on Nov. 15 just blocks from the police station. Two officers involved in the shooting are under investigation by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI. Police have said Clark was interfering with paramedics trying to help an assault victim and then got in a struggle with police when he was shot. They say he wasn’t handcuffed at the time, which has been disputed by witnesses at the scene. 

Protest leaders have been highly critical of how Hodges and Harteau responded to the protests at the 4th Precinct. 

“To move forward and grow together, we must constantly assess our actions and pursue continuous improvement,” Hodges said in a prepared statement. “An independent review of the City’s response to the protests at the 4th Precinct will provide the city — our leaders, our departments, and our residents — with important insight into what was done well and where we can do better in the future. This assessment will have value not only for Minneapolis, but for cities around the country.”

Harteau said that COPS is often called to conduct reviews into incidents that may become a future trend. 

“This process will help the Minneapolis Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies nationally look at some new challenges and new opportunities for us to improve our profession,” she said.