Senators call for U.S. Department of Justice ‘practice-or-pattern’ investigation into Minneapolis Police Department

Today, three Minnesota Senate Republicans called on U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice to open a ‘practice-or-pattern’ investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department and the department’s response to the recent unrest. Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), and Senator David Senjem (R-Rochester) formally requested the investigation in a letter to the Department of Justice earlier this week.

“The Department of Justice has the resources and experience necessary to conduct a fair, thorough investigation on behalf of the city and our state,” said Senator Newman, a retired attorney and Hennepin County Sheriff’s deputy. “While the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has been ordered to conduct a similar inquiry, I do not believe that office has the proper resources, staffing, and training necessary for an objective investigation. The commissioner’s own comments have effectively disqualified her agency from conducting a meaningful, unbiased investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division conducts ‘practice-or-pattern’ investigations into allegations of “serious patterns and practices of excessive force, biased policing, and other unconstitutional practices by law enforcement.” Under this type of investigation, the Department of Justice can examine the alleged conduct by law enforcement agencies and provide the public with a detailed analysis of such allegations. The department has conducted investigations into police departments across the country. 

“I fear for the safety of the citizens of Minneapolis and the millions of people who visit the city year after year. The recent events are a result of decades of tension and dysfunction that has gone unaddressed by the mayor and city council. This community needs a viable path forward,” said Senator Ingebrigtsen, a retired Douglas County Sheriff and veteran law enforcement officer. “This will allow federal investigators to follow the evidence—wherever it may lead. They will be able to speak with city and state officials, political interest groups, and the entire police department, including supervisors and rank-and-file officers.”

The Department of Justice is expected to consider the request in the coming weeks.

“While there are many fine and dedicated police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department, recent and past events tell us it is time the totality of the city be investigated—from city hall to the police station. Until this is complete, and needed corrections are identified and made, public confidence in the delivery of fair and equitable public safety in Minnesota’s mother city will fail to exist,” said Senator Senjem.