More than three years after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, sparking an international outcry, Minneapolis has a plan.

On Tuesday, the city released a report from a Harvard-based team that seeks to chart a long-term vision not only for law enforcement, but for the root causes of crime and how to heal from the trauma it brings.

What it lacks in specifics — there are no estimates for costs or personnel, or a concrete timeline — the report, titled "Minneapolis Safe and Thriving Communities," makes up for in ambition.

Chief author Antonio Oftelie called the 143-page outline "the most ambitious plan around public safety, community safety in the nation" and offered benchmarks to get it started over the next year, although he emphasized the vision could take decades to be fully realized.

While many of the ideas aren't new to those following police reform efforts — such as emphasizing alternatives to policing where officers with guns aren't needed — city leaders welcomed the report as a blueprint to overlay the various initiatives in scattered stages of funding or debate.

A host of city officials including Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council President Andrea Jenkins and Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander hailed the report at a news conference Tuesday. All suggested they would adopt the bulk of its nonbinding recommendations made by a third party paid with nontaxpayer funds.

On Wednesday, the document will be formally presented to the City Council's Public Health and Safety Committee, where it will face vetting from council members not generally aligned with Frey and Jenkins and who have accused them of moving too slowly on reform.

The recommendations come as the city finds itself subject to a growing number of roadmaps and guidelines for public safety — some with the force of law behind them — after outside investigations issued scathing findings directed at the Police Department.

In March, the city reached an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights over how police investigate crimes, use force and hold problem officers accountable. Last month, the Department of Justice concluded that the Police Department engaged in a pattern of racist and abusive behavior, a finding that is expected to lead to a yearslong consent decree overseen by a federal court.

Three years in the making

Oftelie's recommendations have been in the works since 2020.

A Minneapolis native, he serves as executive director of Harvard University's Leadership for a Networked World and is the federal monitor of an 11-year-old consent decree between Seattle and the Department of Justice.

Growing up, he said, his family benefited from Minneapolis police — but he was also aware of problems between officers and the communities they serve, especially in predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods.

He said that after watching the video of Floyd's murder from his home in Massachusetts, he felt compelled to get involved.

"The light was shining on Minneapolis and we wanted to do something," he said Tuesday. Conversations with city officials started soon after.

In the spring of 2021, the city announced it was working with Oftelie's team, which is being funded by about $400,000 in donations from the Pohlad Family Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis Foundation and Joyce Foundation.

The timeline for when — or if — Oftelie's recommendations would be adopted has shifted as the city has shuffled its bureaucracy following a voter-approved charter amendment and efforts to reorganize its public safety responses. In 2021, the city suggested the results of Oftelie's work would be delivered around the end of that year.

In July 2022, Oftelie gave one of two updates to the council and said he would provide the city's incoming and inaugural public safety commissioner "a seamless flow of work" as soon as he stepped into the role.

However, nearly a year after Alexander started the job, it remained unclear what the overarching plan was.

The report outlines a "robust continuum of services" that the city should provide residents, broken down into three categories: violence prevention, response to community safety incidents and restorative justice. Within a year, the report recommends that the city:

  • Establish an executive leadership team and community advisory board
  • Develop a multiyear implementation and financial plan
  • Design a governance and operations plan
  • Initiate policy and practice committees and work groups
  • Implement a community communications plan and progress dashboard

Frey estimated the plan would cost "millions" of dollars — on top of costs to comply with the state and federal agreements — but offered no further specifics.

Read the report:

(Can't read the document? Click here.)