External Review Says State Had ‘Inadequate Coordination’ Early On In Unrest Response, Makes Recommendations

31 March 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An independent, external review of Minnesota’s response to the unrest following George Floyd’s death found that there was “inadequate coordination” early on with the Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC).

In September 2020, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) contracted with Wilder Research to conduct the review, which was completed earlier this week.

DPS Commissioner John Harrington says the review was conducted to identify strengths and areas for improvement, and to provide recommendations on improving the state’s response to future civil unrest. The findings also led to recommendations on following up with affected communities after civil unrest occurs.

The main areas the review looked at were MACC setup and operations; law enforcement coordination, strategies and logistics; fire and life safety response; coordination with and support for local jurisdictions; communication and messaging to the public; media experience; and community member and business owner experience.

Some of the key findings were that setup and coordination of MACC started “too late” and the incident response team initially “lacked clear, experienced leadership and a shared understanding of a unified command structure.” The review said the location of the MACC at the University of Minnesota’s football stadium was not ideal, according to some.

On law enforcement, the review said different training and rules of engagement were followed by participating law enforcement agencies and also that standards promoting accountability “were not consistently followed” among those agencies. The review also said that better coordination on the sharing of intelligence information is needed.

On supporting local jurisdictions, the review found that the timeliness of Minnesota National Guard deployment needs to be improved, as well as communication between local jurisdictions and the state.

The review also found, in regards to public messaging, that a lack of communication on how people could protect their neighborhoods “led community groups and individuals to take matters into their own hands.”

“The cities and state could have done more to communicate urgent messages in multiple languages,” the review said.

On areas of strength, the review said the Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota National Guard and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources mobilized quickly when activated and “worked together effectively to protect critical infrastructure and human life.” MACC also communicated effectively with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to close roads in multiple locations across the Twin Cities, the review found.

CRITICAL RECOMMENDATIONS ON UNREST RESPONSE

– Strengthen multi-agency coordination systems
– Improve coordination and relationships with local jurisdictions and the media
– Lead efforts to address tensions between law enforcement agencies and communities through intentional trust-building efforts, police accountability and transformation, and education

Other recommendations include enhancing diversity and inclusion efforts, engaging protest groups and organizers ahead of time, and improving after action documentation and reporting.

“The tragedy and trauma that unfolded in summer 2020 were significant, unplanned, and unprecedented. Moving forward, the state has the opportunity to focus on building functional systems, plans, and relationships that will lead to a response to civil unrest that supports all Minnesotans, especially communities of color and, specifically, Black Minnesotans,” the review said.

For more on the review, click here.

A separate, independent audit released in early March found the city of Minneapolis fell short and mishandled its response to the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder. It was determined that Mayor Jacob Frey’s office didn’t follow the city’s emergency procedures.

During the May 2020 arrest, Floyd, a Black man, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe as Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground. His resulting death led to worldwide protests and calls for change in policing. Chauvin has since been convicted and sentenced for murdering Floyd.

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