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Independent review cites failures in Minneapolis response to unrest after George Floyd's murder

The report listed numerous communications and operational problems that left residents feeling "abandoned."

MINNEAPOLIS — An outside firm is detailing numerous communications failures and operational shortcomings in the way the city of Minneapolis responded to the citywide unrest following the murder of George Floyd by then-MPD officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020. The firm also noted how the unrest and response "impacted the wellness" of the Minneapolis community, police, firefighters and city staff.

The 86-page independent After Action Review prepared by security risk company Jensen Hughes was presented to the Minneapolis City Council on Tuesday, following reviews of documents, body camera video, and community interviews.

The review found the "Minneapolis community was deeply shaken" by Floyd's murder and "generally disappointed" with the city's response.

"Community members were dismayed at the lack of leadership and planning from the City and the MPD and expressed their overall distrust of City and MPD officials," the report stated. "Interviewees indicated that they felt like the City abandoned them."

The report found that the "city did not effectively use its Emergency Operation Plan," noting that Minneapolis police didn't follow "core incident command principles" or planning efforts, and didn't utilize training and experience from earlier large-scale incidents.

The report also cited communications failures that affected the unrest response.

"MPD personnel in the field reported that they received little guidance from incident command regarding the response over several days," the report states. "As a result, commanders and supervisors in the field engaged in making decisions and implementing response actions specific to their area. A collective or integrated response was not realized until state and federal assistance arrived."

According to the review's findings, MPD did not have a plan for handling or processing mass arrests, and found that MPD patrol officers "did not seem to have consistent rules of engagement or control."

The firm also looked into the delayed response of the Minnesota National Guard to the unrest, stating that city leaders were unfamiliar with the process for requesting Guard assistance.

"The Mayor made a verbal request of the Governor in the early evening hours of Wednesday, May 27, followed by a written request," the report explains. "The MPD forwarded its request through email shortly thereafter; however, the detailed information critical to the mission, required by MNG for approval as detailed in the [official] policy, was not included in any of the initial requests."

Reviewers also found fault with the Minneapolis Fire Department for failing to call for mutual aid or calling in emergency help, blamed in part the failure of a communication tool used to reach fire department personnel.

The report noted how community members stepped up to protect their own neighborhoods in the absence of communication from city officials.

"Absent any information or direction from the city or respective departments, many individuals ended up acting on their own and doing what they thought was needed with very little guidance or even situational awareness," the report stated. "Many interviewees said that the city’s lack of communication prompted a positive result of neighborhood residents and business owners working together to protect their residences and businesses and to clean up after the destruction from the previous night."

The report also acknowledges the health impact on city staff, officers and firefighters, noting the "significant" number of retirements and resignations from MPD.

"The MPD and the MFD did not effectively manage the assignment of officers in a way that minimized the mental and physical effect of prolonged assignments on employees’ health and wellness during and after the response to the protests that followed the Floyd’s death," the report stated.

In their presentation, the reviewers recommended that city leaders hold conversations and forums with community members and business leaders, while also developing communications plans, working on leadership development, and recommitting to Incident Command System principles.

Read the full independent After Action review here.

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