Police Department

Racial Bias Audit

The Duluth Police Department has a long history of progressive and innovative policing. We are the international model for Domestic Abuse response, we participated in the first Institutional Analysis with Mending the Sacred Hoop over ten years ago and are currently doing so again, which helps us be a leader in our response to crime involving victims from our Indigenous community. DPD was an early adopter of a victim-centered approach to policing, one of the first agencies to adopt a body-worn camera program, and a leader in how we approach the mental health and substance abuse crises in our community with our CORE (Mental Health Unit) and SURT (Substance Use Response Team) teams. These are just a few highlights of our long history of leadership in service to our community. This constant commitment to learning and improvement is critical to our organization and something to be proud of.

The Racial Bias Audit will build on this commitment of learning and innovation by delving into our hiring practices, policies, procedures, calls for service, training, retention, how we interact with our BIPOC community and how they interact with their police department, the role of the Civilian Review Board and its efficacy, use of force, traffic stops, and more. It will review best practices, provide input on where we are excelling, and where we need to improve, and provide recommendations based on best practices and research that will help us fulfill our mission.

Among other things, the audit will assess how DPD addresses racially biased 911 calls, the types and effectiveness of bias and interracial-relations trainings that DPD staff have received, and DPD protocols and practices regarding responses to civil disturbance and interactions with immigrant and refugee populations. The auditors will also evaluate in-car and body-worn camera data for possible bias activities including patterns of behavior and language, as well as DPD’s process of documenting, investigating, adjudicating, and publicizing officer use-of-force incidents.

A primary goal of the audit is to access the perspectives of police officers and Duluth Police Department staff, and to access the perspectives of BIPOC members of the Duluth community. It is hoped that through the gathering and recording of these perspectives, both the needs of the BIPOC members of the Duluth community and the needs of Duluth police officers and Duluth Police Department staff will be met by the audit.

The Duluth Police Department has demonstrated a commitment to improvement. The adoption of a victim-centered approach to policing, integration of body-worn cameras, and the creation of a Mental Health Unit and Substance Use Response Team (Behavioral Health Unit) shows how the department is working to continuously evolve and respond to the needs of the community.

Yet national calls for police reform over the past few years have highlighted how new programs are not always enough to build and maintain community trust. A community’s trust in their police department reflects a wide variety of individual experiences and interactions with that police department. Between 2020 and 2021, community members in Duluth expressed concerns over the possibility of racially disparate policing practices in Duluth. A petition for a racial bias audit of the Duluth Police Department received over 3,000 signatures. In 2021, city leadership called on the department to conduct this audit. The Duluth Police Department responded by partnering with community members representing various city commissions and community groups to develop a proposal for a racial bias audit of the department.

Our Racial Bias Audit is a community lead project from the start.  We started our process by inviting participation from our commissions and groups representing unrepresented members of our community. This group of volunteers has consisted of individuals from the Commission on Disabilities, Duluth Citizen Review Board, Duluth Community Safety Initiative, Human Rights Commission, NQT2SLGBIA Commission, the Duluth branch of the NAACP, and the Duluth Police Department makes up our Racial Bias Audit Team.

The eleven objectives of the audit were developed over a period of one year. The Racial Bias Audit Team first developed a draft of objectives, and then shared that draft with community organizations in order to gain their input, thereby ensuring that the objectives of the audit were based in community concerns and viewpoints. The auditors and Duluth Police Department administration meet monthly with members of the Racial Bias Audit Team to discuss the audit’s progress and to solicit input on the process.

Together, the Racial Bias Audit Team developed a Request for Proposal (RFP), reviewed all submitted proposals, created a selection process, and then selected the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) as the agency that would take on this project. CJI’s policing projects involve working with police departments on policy and operational reforms as well as supporting the development of robust accountability structures to achieve better policing for officers and the communities they serve. 

October 2022 was the start of the audit and our Racial Bias Audit Team is in the heart of this process by attending monthly meetings to discuss CJI’s focus and plan for the next month, and provide input, discussion, and assistance. The audit was finalized in August 2023, after which CJI will present findings to the community at three public presentations and serve as a guide for developing implementation goals. To review the final report of the Racial Bias Audit, you can access it here: Duluth Racial Bias Audit Report 2023 or click the below image. The three public presentations are: 

-Wednesday, August 9, Hosted by the Duluth Rights Commission at City Hall Council Chambers from 5:30 - 7 p.m.
-Wednesday, August 23, Hosted by the Duluth Citizen Review Board at City Hall Room 330 from 5:30 - 7 p.m.
-Thursday, September 7, Hosted by the Family Freedom Center at 310 N 1st Ave W Ste 108 from 7 - 8:30 p.m.


As we move through this audit, feedback is encouraged and welcomed.  Members of the community can email the Duluth Police Department at police@duluthmn.gov, CJI at duluthaudit@cjinstitute.org, or the Racial Bias Audit Group at RBAT.Duluth@gmail.com.

Request for Proposal for Racial Bias Audit

Crime and Justice Institute Proposal

Agreement between CRJ and City of Duluth

Duluth Racial Bias Audit Workplan

November 2022 Update

December 2022 Update

January 2023 Update

February 2023 Update

March 2023 Update

April 2023 Update

May 2023 Update

June 2023 Update

Closeout Memorandum

To review the final report of the Racial Bias Audit, you can access it here: Duluth Racial Bias Audit Report 2023 or click the below image. 

Human Rights Commission Public Presentation

Family Freedom Center Public Presentation

Duluth Citizen Review Board Public Presentation 

Final Report on Findings and Considerations

Q & A's from Public Presentations

Closeout Memorandum