Consent decree explained

A consent decree is a legally binding settlement agreement enforced by the court.

What is a consent decree?

When the Department of Justice (DOJ) finds evidence of a pattern and practice of unlawful policing, they generally settle the case with an order enforced by a federal court. These orders are usually called “consent decrees.” The term reflects that the order was negotiated and agreed to by the DOJ and the City that was investigated.

A consent decree is a legally binding agreement, where the court supervises the implementation of the agreement.


Often the consent decree names an independent monitor to oversee the agreement through a monitoring team that regularly reports progress to the court and to the community.

Measuring compliance is a very complex and technical process.

Consent decrees require transformational change. A city complies with a consent decree when it demonstrates:

  • It has implemented all the required improvements to policy, training, technology, and operations
  • Those improvements have translated into measurable, sustainable, constitutional, community-oriented policing

DOJ consent decree

The DOJ has not completed its investigation. If the DOJ concludes that its investigation reveals patterns or practices of unlawful policing, DOJ will seek to work with City, with input from community stakeholders, to effectively and sustainably remedy any unlawful practices. This usually takes the form of a consent decree. 


MDHR settlement negotiations

After finding the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department engage in a pattern or practice of race discrimination, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights invited the City began working on a court enforceable agreement to resolve the probable cause determination.

The City and MDHR entered into good faith negotiations and on July 13, 2022, the City and MDHR agreed to a Joint Statement of Principles that will guide efforts to reach a settlement agreement this fall.

See the Joint Statement of Principles

As part of this process, the MDHR will meet regularly with the City. They will engage community members and other stakeholders to gather feedback on what should be included in the consent decree.