Independent Audit Reveals Lack of Control from Minneapolis Leadership During George Floyd Protests

 (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

By Matthew Torres and Ava Schwartzapfel

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Almost two years after the police murder of George Floyd that resulted in unprecedented protests, an “after action review” from independent auditors reveals poor missteps from the Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and then-Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

One of the report’s key points is that the mayor and police chief failed to implement the city’s emergency plans or inform officers on how to respond to mass civil unrest. This information would have included when and how to use chemical irritants and rubber bullets in crowd control.

Minnesota Reformer reporter Max Nesterak writes, according to the report, a unified command center was not created nor was there any formal planning during the protests. Instead, their response to the events developed “organically.”

One author of the report, Chad McGinty, is a former major for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and he told Minneapolis City Council members, “There was a vast, vast void in consistent rules of engagement or control.”

This lack of guidance, the report noted, is still costing the city in paying out settlements to those injured by law enforcement. Yet, another adverse effect has been the city losing a third of the officers since Floyd’s death, and being unable to replace them or retain new ones.

The Minnesota Reformer notes this independent audit is being conducted by risk management company, Jensen Hughes. This group consists of mainly veteran law enforcement officers. They were commissioned in February 2021 by the city council to evaluate the city’s response to the unrest following Floyd’s death. They have since issued an 87-page report with 27 recommendations for improvement.

They listened to residents through community focus groups, interviewed nearly 90 police, fire, and government officials, and watched around 35 hours of body-cam footage when conducting their audit.

The report notes that neither the Minneapolis Fire Department nor the Minneapolis Police Department conducted their own after-action reports, making this one the first complete audit of the events that occurred.

Nesterak writes, “Despite widespread misconduct, few officers have been disciplined.” Officers interviewed in the report state that even before Floyd’s death the department lacked sufficient resources to investigate police misconduct, an issue that was exacerbated in the following months.

In a section of the report titled “Leadership Issues,” the authors cite shortcomings from Frey and Arradondo.

Robert Boehmer, former Chicago police officer and an author of the report told City Council members “while the level of protests and violence was unprecedented, better planning, organization, communications, and adherence to command and control principles would have led to a better response.”

The Minnesota Reformer cites Council Member Robin Wonsley as more blunt in his assessment. He states that “this report made it crystal clear to me that at city hall, our failures were not structural failures, they were actually failures of leadership.”

According to Mayor Frey’s office as of Tuesday, they welcome the group’s recommendations.

Frey also said, “Rebuilding trust between community and local government relies on us taking concrete actions informed by this review’s recommendations. As we dig into the findings, I remain grateful to city staff who worked around the clock, navigating a global pandemic, during one of the most challenging and traumatic times for Minneapolis as a city.”

Former Council Member Cam Gordon explained that this report should have been released prior to the November election where Mayor Frey was reelected. Gordon explains that this reelection gave more power to Frey’s office and rejected a ballot initiative to replace the police department.

Gordon even Tweeted that the city’s response was terrible, failing to follow any of their own plans or policies. “The oversight was absolutely inadequate,” he shared.

Within the first few days after Floyd’s murder, journalists had asked Frey and Arradondo if they had lost control over their officers and if the chain of command was broken.

Although they did not directly answer the question, they did release a report including the following statement: “The footage clearly revealed in some circumstances the lack of MPD command oversight, clear objectives, coordinated crowd-control measures and accountability for the deployment of less-lethal munitions.”

This report also noted the mayor blames Governor Tim Walz for the delayed arrival of National Guard soldiers. Frey claims that Walz did not take his requests seriously. Walz, however, claims that Frey did not provide him with the information needed to activate the National Guard.

The writers of this report state that city officials did not follow the protocols to request proper assistance, as this process “was unfamiliar to those making the requests.”

“Had the Mayor or the MPD consulted the Office of Emergency Management, the OEM could have assisted with a more detailed request and potentially minimize the delay in deployment” the report also stated.

Finally, the authors of this report made a point to note that Arradondo, who has since retired, was extremely popular among residents. Even those who tended not to trust the police felt betrayed and abandoned by the city leaders in this case.

About The Author

Matthew Torres is a fourth year Criminal Justice major at California State University, Sacramento expecting to graduate in Spring 2022. After graduation he will be continuing his studies in law school.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan Miller

    Interesting and seemingly level.  I’m not sure from reading it if the authors even have a bias (that’s good), except clearly the response was poorly managed.  Not surprised there was no internal audit since the department lost so many officers.

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