A week after an outside investigator's report detailed Golden Valley police officers' racist statements, violations of data privacy laws and backlash to equity and inclusion efforts, the City Council publicly acknowledged the hurt and trauma caused by the officers' actions, and pledged to keep pursuing reforms.
"It will take time and effort to heal," said Mayor Shep Harris, reading the statement from the council during Tuesday's City Council meeting.
"We condemn racism in all its forms," he said. "We support our police officers."
The City Council moved on to other business after Harris read the statement, and offered no specific details on what the city would do in response to the explosive report.
Harris said the City Council was committed to antiracism and police reform efforts, some of which were already in the works.
A two-year, $250,000 grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation is funding initiatives intended to build trust in the city's Police Department. That work is set to include more training for officers around bias and diversity, a racial equity audit and more collaboration with community groups.
Harris called for the investigation into Golden Valley police in March to look into allegations of a "toxic work culture," multiple data breaches and the conduct of specific officers, he said Tuesday. Minneapolis law firm Greene Espel spent more than eight months probing a range of issues in the Police Department, which has struggled to hire and retain officers.
Last week, the city published the investigators' report detailing allegations of officers' misconduct, including that of an officer terminated in August after more than 15 years in the department, for racist comments and secretly recording meetings and posting the recordings on a city server, according to the report. The report also critiqued the city's early efforts at discussing bias and systemic racism with police.
The report also suggested the city's current efforts — which are focused on measurable outcomes — would be more productive for police than earlier "listening circles" and discussions around systemic racism, which were met with skepticism and some hostility from police.
Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green sat silent during the meeting.
Residents' response after the statement was read was subdued. One man in the back row murmured, "Shame on you," before leaving the meeting.
Former Council Member Marti Micks asked when the council would look at its next steps, and said she supported the recommendations made by Greene Espel.
Resident Jim Winkles asked when he could ask questions about the report. Harris invited him to meet with him and city staff, but said there would be forums on law enforcement and public safety in the future, as part of the foundation-funded effort to revamp policing in Golden Valley.
Law Enforcement Labor Services Executive Director Jim Mortensen declined to comment Tuesday afternoon, saying the union that represents Golden Valley police would wait for the City Council's statement. Mortensen did not return a phone call Tuesday evening.