The Police Officer’s Federation of Minneapolis is seeking to intervene in Minneapolis’s settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The settlement between the MDHR and Minneapolis is the result of a lawsuit filed by the department. MDHR found that Minneapolis police had engaged in a discriminatory practice of targeting minority communities. The Federation filed a motion to intervene in the settlement on June 1.
“Those of us who prosecute civil rights cases overwhelmingly, we believe the union has historically been an obstacle for police reform in Minneapolis,” Twin Cities civil rights attorney Jeff Storms said. “But we also think the union has often served as a convenient scapegoat or boogeyman for the city.”
Storms says the fact that the city excluded the union from the negotiations might signal the city thought the union would be a significant hurdle to reach a settlement.
In making the case for its intervention, the Federation cited Rule 24 of the Minnesota court rules, which states that:
“Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action when the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is adequately represented by existing parties.”
The Federation argues that parts of the settlement limit officers' actions, their ability to make disciplinary decisions, and their access to non-public data. The Federation also says it is concerned the city will use the settlement against the Federation in upcoming labor negotiations. Both the city and the MDHR object to the intervention.
In its motion to intervene, the Federation stated that “even if intervention by the Federation were to delay the Court’s ruling on the Settlement Agreement, such a delay could have been avoided by the MDHR and/or the City had the Federation been invited to participate in the conference with the Court.”
According to City Attorney Kristin Anderson, the settlement was a way to prevent the city from being sued by the state for the MPD’s actions. The settlement, if finalized in its current form, will change how officers stop vehicles and their use-of-force guidelines.
The Federation still needs the court's permission to intervene before the settlement agreement is approved. A hearing for the agreement's approval is set for June 15.