City Council’s Committee of the Whole briefed on after action review of City’s response to civil unrest following murder of George Floyd

March 8, 2022

Hillard Heintze, a security risk management firm, presented key findings and recommendations of an after action review (AAR) of the City’s response to civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole today.

The analysis focuses on the City’s actions immediately following Floyd’s murder from May 25, 2020 to June 3, 2020. The unrest came as the City was also navigating the early stages of the pandemic and transitioning to a remote work environment.

The City initiated a one-year contract with Hillard Heintze in February 2021 after issuing a request for proposals (RFP). The purpose of an after action report is to facilitate learning, corrective action and continuous improvement of crisis-response systems. 

The report found the City did not properly use the City’s Emergency Operations Plan to effectively guide the response to the unrest or capitalize on training from other recent large-scale events to establish a framework for a crisis response. 

The AAR also includes 27 recommendations for the City to consider moving forward. Under Mayor Jacob Frey’s direction, the City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is working with the responsible departments on developing an implementation plan to take action on the recommendations. The City is also committed to providing quarterly reports to Mayor Frey and the City Council as implementation moves forward to ensure accountability.

“OEM has taken a number of steps that relate to the findings in the report,” said OEM Director Barret Lane. “Since 2020, OEM has continued to activate, train, and exercise the Emergency Operations Center function as recommended in the report. OEM maintains a 24x7 watch and responds to planned and unplanned events as needed. The last major Emergency Operations Center exercise was held in October 2021 and another is scheduled for this summer.”

OEM presents senior official training, including elected official training, as part of the new council onboarding process. The current training cycle is underway and initial National Incident Management System (NIMS) training will be completed later this month. The Emergency Operations Plan is reviewed and revised on a four-year rolling basis in conjunction with the State of Minnesota. The next major iteration is scheduled to be approved by resolution by the City Council in 2022.

“Rebuilding trust between community and local government relies on us taking concrete actions informed by this review,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “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.”

“Today’s conversation brings back a lot of pain for our city. While we will never fully move on from the trauma caused by the murder of George Floyd, it is important that we learn from our mistakes and take to heart the advice provided in this report,” said City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano. “If there is one thing that is clear, now more than ever, we need to better integrate every city department, especially MPD. Today, we have been presented with a roadmap to creating a more integrated and prepared enterprise and it is our responsibility to see these improvements come to fruition.”

Since May 2020, MPD and the Mayor’s office have taken action to strengthen oversight and accountability through a series of policy and training reforms, including those related to less lethal munitions. For example, any use of crowd control weapons needs to be approved and directed by the Chief or Chief’s designee unless there is a threat of objectively imminent physical harm to an officer or community member. In these circumstances, crowd control weapons may only be used against the specific persons who are posing a threat.   

“I want 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,” said interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman. “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. MPD will work collaboratively with other City departments to enact the City’s emergency response protocols during times of crisis. We must honor First Amendment rights while we focus on ensuring public safety for everyone. Finally, we recognize the need to invest in the wellness of our employees; mental, emotional and physical health are critical not only to the officers themselves but also to public safety.”

“We have taken steps to ensure that our crews are properly trained to respond to critical incidents as highlighted in the report,” said Fire Chief Bryan Tyner. “The vast majority of the after action report’s recommendations were also identified by MFD through our internal after action process and were addressed and implemented prior to the Chauvin trial.”