The city of Minneapolis has winnowed the pool of applicants vying to serve as independent monitor of its state and federal consent decrees on policing to three finalists, all of which are out-of-state groups.

A monitor wields considerable power in enforcing consent decrees — one of the federal government's most aggressive tools for intervening in police departments with histories of systemic misconduct. Minneapolis is thought to be the first American city subject to simultaneous court-ordered reforms by separate jurisdictions.

After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, both the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the Minneapolis Police Department's patterns and practices, found extensive violations of state and federal civil rights and prescribed sweeping reforms that will take the city years to achieve.

Minneapolis entered into a court-approved settlement agreement, laying out a timetable of reforms, with the state in July. It has not yet reached a formal agreement with the feds.

One court-appointed monitor will oversee both consent decrees, evaluate the Police Department's compliance, report the city's progress to the public and mediate disputes. The role of the evaluator is crucial because only when the court agrees that the reforms have been fully met will the consent decrees lift. Some cities have remained under federal oversight for decades.

The finalists are:

Effective Law Enforcement for All: Created by David L. Douglass, the former deputy monitor for the city of New Orleans, this team combines expertise from a group of retired police chiefs, civil rights attorneys, data analysts and racial equity researchers to help "reinvent law enforcement" in the communities they serve. The nonprofit conducted an audit of the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, issuing recommendations for how to reshape organizational culture and reduce use-of-force incidents.

Jensen Hughes Inc.: A global engineering, consulting and technology firm with 90 offices — one in Minnetonka. In 2021, one of their law firms conducted a sweeping assessment of the Louisville Metro Police Department amid the fallout from Breonna Taylor's death during a no-knock raid. They analyzed Louisville police datasets, including traffic stops and arrests, to determine disparate outcomes based on race and reviewed training procedures, which led to implemented reforms. The U.S. Attorney's Office also hired them to evaluate the Seattle Police Department's training unit, while that city was under a federal consent decree.

Relman Colfax: A Washington D.C.-based civil rights law firm whose cases deal with discrimination in education, housing and lending. It has conducted civil rights audits of the policies of Facebook, Airbnb and State Street Bank, and it is currently helping an 11-year-old transgender girl who was denied access to girls' restrooms sue a small Wisconsin school district.

The state consent decree initially stated that an independent monitor needed to be in place by Nov. 10. Six local and national groups applied for the job in time for that deadline. None made the final round.

The deadline was extended and another call for applications was issued in September. Fourteen additional groups — including firms already monitoring other cities' court-ordered policing reforms — submitted bids, according to records obtained through a data practices request.

They were:

  • ADP Consulting
  • Aegis Collaborative Solutions
  • Effective Law Enforcement for All
  • Guidepost Solutions
  • Hughes Hubbard & Reed
  • Jensen Hughes
  • Jones Walker
  • Mitchell Stein Carey Chapman
  • Pivot Consulting Group
  • Relman Colfax
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • Tiffany Lacy Clark
  • Womble Bond Dickinson

While other cities under consent decrees like Baltimore and Springfield, Mass., made compliance monitor applications available for public review from the start of the process, these are not public. Minneapolis, MDHR and the U.S. DOJ reviewed the applications, interviewed teams and agreed on the three finalists.

Because the group ultimately chosen is expected to conduct meaningful engagement with the community in addition to providing technical assistance to the city, the finalists will appear at two public forums to present who is on their teams, how they'll monitor the Police Department's compliance and approve trainings and policies.

The forums are scheduled for:

Jan. 9 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, (Cowles Auditorium), 301 19th Av. S., from 6-8 p.m.

Jan. 10 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1919 LaSalle Av., from 6-8 p.m.

Afterward, one team will be chosen for the job. Their contract is subject to approval by the Minneapolis City Council, with an anticipated start date of March 9, 2024.