State Watch

Miscommunication, lack of planning found in Minneapolis response to Floyd protests

A report released on Monday says the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) mismanaged the 2020 protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in the Minnesota city, leaving many upset and seeking answers about the government’s handling of the mass demonstrations.

In a nearly 86-page report summarizing a year-long investigation, the security risk management firm Hillard Heintze identified a number of points of failure in Minneapolis’s response to the protests, including miscommunication with the public and a failure by the MPD to develop formal crisis response plans.

Hillard Heintze was hired by the city in February 2021 to investigate and report on how it handled the protests that swept Minneapolis in the wake of Floyd’s death under the knee of then-MPD officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.

The firm conducted nearly 90 interviews with people with “various perspectives” on the protest response, including city department employees and elected officials; reviewed thousands of documents and video and audio files, including body-worn camera footage; and collected feedback from the public.

It concluded that “even though the level of protest and violence was unprecedented, better planning, organization, communication and adherence to command-and-control principles by the MPD and city officials would have led to a better response.”

It also found that the protests and the city’s response had a lasting impact on both government employees and the public.

“After more than 18 months, community members are still deeply shaken, and emotions are still high about Floyd’s death and the events that followed,” the report’s authors wrote.

The report said that many MPD officers resigned or retired following the protests and that a significant number had put in claims for post-traumatic stress disorder.

A flood of calls during the protests also “impacted the communication staff’s wellness” at the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center, the report said.

“During the unrest across the city, the long shifts, heavy call volume, threatening phone calls and the emotion of the field officers’ radio traffic yelling for help with the surging crowds was traumatic for the communications staff,” it read.

The city also failed to properly implement emergency procedures or coordinate government departments, according to the report, while it said the MPD did not properly centralize command or provide sufficient guidance to personnel in the field.

In a news release, the city said the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has already made changes consistent with the recommendations in the report and would continue to follow them. It added that additional training and reforms were also implemented at the MPD following the protests.
 
Mayor Jacob Frey (D) said he is committed to following the recommendations.
 
“Rebuilding trust between community and local government relies on us taking concrete actions informed by this review,” Frey said in a statement. “The recommendations highlighted in today’s presentation will be put to use, and I’ve already directed staff to implement a plan for improving our emergency response processes across the enterprise.”
 
In a statement, interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said she wanted to “acknowledge the deep pain in our community caused by the murder of George Floyd and the City’s actions during the unrest that followed.”
 
“This after action review forces us to revisit one of the most traumatic chapters of our city’s history, but it’s a necessary step to make sure we are prepared to effectively protect our community the next time we face a significant crisis,” Huffman said. “Moving forward, we are committed to examining our policies and training to ensure they reflect best practices and our commitment to care for our community.”
 
Hillard Heintze said the Minneapolis community lacks trust in the MPD and city officials, and encouraged the city to rebuild that trust.
 
“The best way to manage future protests and keep them from turning violent is to create a dialogue between the MPD and the community in advance,” the report authors wrote. “Such an effort should create an environment wherein the MPD and residents can build trust and respect and address concerns.”
 
— Updated at 5:34 p.m.
Tags Black Lives Matter George Floyd Hillard Heintze Jacob Frey Minneapolis Minneapolis Police Department Minnesota Protests
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