Pattern and practice investigations

We explain the investigations into whether the City and police department engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful practices.

Overview

Pattern and practice investigations

In 1994, Congress authorized the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and litigate cases involving “a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers” that violates Constitutional or federal rights. 

  • A few states have state statutes permitting state Attorney General to perform state-law investigations of police departments.
  • Minnesota does not have a similar law.
  • However, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has the authority to investigate under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

See Minnesota Statutes 363A. Human Rights

Investigations into the City and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD)

In June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, MDHR began an investigation into whether the City and MPD had engaged in a pattern and practice of racially-discriminatory policing in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The investigation found that there was probable cause that the City and MPD engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination. As a result, MDHR is working with the City to develop a court-enforceable agreement.

Learn about the MDHR investigation and its findings

In April 2021, one day after a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty for the murder of George Floyd, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the DOJ had opened an investigation into the City and MPD.

The DOJ investigation is still ongoing and has not led to a consent decree at this time.

Learn more about the DOJ investigation

Consent decrees

When a pattern and practice investigation finds evidence of police misconduct, it is generally settled with an settlement agreement enforced by a court. These agreements are orders called “consent decrees.”

Learn more about consent decrees

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