Reimagining Public Safety

EFFORTS TO REIMAGINE PUBLIC SAFETY

Police Recruitment & Training

Community pressure for reform in the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) recruitment and training of police officers has been strong, particularly since Jamar Clark was shot and killed by police in 2015. Justine Damond’s death at the hands of police in 2017 intensified the scrutiny. After George Floyd was killed in police custody in May 2020, the resulting civil unrest in Minneapolis intensified the pressure for reform. 

Since the awful events of summer 2020, an unprecedented number of police officers stepped back from active duty through leaves, attrition, and retirement. In 2019, the MPD had an average of 851 full time active officers. As of January 25, 2021, the MPD had only 662. The 2021 budget funded the Police Department to bring the number of full time officers up to 770, giving the City a unique opportunity to recruit and train new officers, as well as better support to train current officers. 

Recruitment

In 2021, the City has three programs to recruit new police officers. The Police Officer – Recruits program hires candidates who have a law enforcement degree and the MN Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) certification. The Police Officer – Cadets (Cadets) program hires candidates who have not completed the necessary education to be eligible for the POST certification. The Cadets receive pay while they go to school, complete skills training courses, and take the POST exam. The Community Service Officer (CSO) program hires CSOs to work 30-40 hours per week for the MPD while enrolling in a two-year law enforcement program and/or working toward completing the POST licensing requirements. The CSOs are recruited from diverse communities in the City to help the department understand, communicate and cooperate with those communities. 

Recruitment is the MPD’s opportunity to diversify its officers and comply with the City’s goals for racial equity. The Cadets and CSO recruitment programs allow for candidates from marginalized communities who may not have the means to pay for the expensive education required of police officers under POST standards.

In March 2021, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Chief Human Resources Officer Patience Ferguson announced new recruitment priorities for incoming MPD recruits, starting with the summer class. For example, applicants who have experience in social service and live in Minneapolis will be assigned greater weight in the process.

Greater weight will also be assigned to those with volunteer experience, education and on-the-job experience in social service, mental health work, and substance use disorder counseling. Degrees in criminal justice, social work, psychology, sociology, criminology, counseling, and other related fields will also be emphasized.

This is not the first effort the department has made to diversify the force. Former Police Chief Janee Harteau started a program to address sexism in the police force and change the MPD from within. The program recognized women officers’ skills in communication and handling confrontational situations in different ways. The PBS Documentary Women in Blue depicted the program and suggested that having more women in policing could result in improved public safety because of the different skills and approaches to conflict they bring to the job.

Training

In Minnesota, the POST Board sets the standards for police officer training, both for pre-licensure educational programs and continuing education. Training includes defensive tactics, report writing, ethics, traffic enforcement, crime scene investigation, community policing, defensive driving and maneuvers. Beginning in 2018, by state statute, police officers also must complete continuing education in crisis intervention and mental illness crises; as well as conflict management and mediation. Officers now are trained to recognize implicit bias and to value community diversity and cultural differences. Given the opioid epidemic, all responding officers additionally now are trained in opioid response and are equipped with anti-overdose medication naloxone.

The MPD has taken additional steps to change the culture of policing within the department. In 2015, the Department of Justice selected Minneapolis as one of six cities to participate in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Using evidence-based research, the program tries to ensure that justice is part of every police interaction. Procedural Justice is based on four principles: 

  1. Treating people with dignity and respect
  2. Giving citizens ‘voice’ during encounters
  3. Being neutral in decision making, and
  4. Conveying trust.

In 2019, the City of Minneapolis banned warrior-style police training for its police officers, which has been criticized for encouraging police to be in a paranoid frame of mind while on duty, resulting in the use of excessive force. Bob Kroll, the head of the Police union at that time, criticized the decision and vowed to fight it. Kroll called the ban illegal and said that the union would continue to provide the training to interested officers.

The MPD is also taking steps to improve wellness for its officers. For the first time in department history, at the request of Chief Arradondo, Mayor Frey committed funding for 2019 to develop a health and wellness program for officers. Officers, who may experience daily trauma, are provided supportive resources to cope with the challenges of their work.

There may be changes ahead in the curriculum that is used in Minnesota for police officer education. After George Floyd’s death, the Minnesota State colleges and universities system appointed a Task Force on Law Enforcement Education Reform. The Task Force was charged with making recommendations on how to improve the education of police officers. Over 80 percent of Minnesota’s police officers receive their educational training at the community colleges and universities that make up Minnesota State. 

In March 2021, the Task Force recommended adding cultural competency and anti-racist concepts into all law enforcement and criminal justice programs and requiring work experience such as internships in diverse communities. The Task Force also suggested revising trainings to be more culturally responsive and to assess students’ cultural competency and implicit biases both before and after they receive their education. The goal of the recommended changes is to produce graduates who are culturally competent and able to equitably respond to all of those whom they are charged to serve and protect regardless of skin color, national origin, or identity.If the Task Force’s recommendations are accepted, Minnesota State will work with the POST Board to ensure that any curriculum changes comply with the state standards. 

Learn more about the POST Board and their initiatives

 

Sources:

City of Minneapolis, Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, Police, pp. 434, 437 and Council Member Amendments to the Mayor’s Proposed 2021 Budget, pp. 45-46. https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/budget/adopted-budget/

City of Minneapolis website, Jobs/Police jobs/job types https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/jobs/police-jobs/job-types/

Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman’s newsletter, March 12, 2021, https://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/MPLS-2c5fe0d?wgt_ref=WARD_7

Minneapolis Police Department’s 2021 Sworn Hiring Plan including Community Service Officers, presentation by Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, February 4, 2021

Fishel, Deirdre, director, Women in Blue, PBS 2021

“‘Women in Blue’ and redefining what it means to protect and serve,” New York Times, Feb. 2, 2021. 

“Minneapolis to ban ‘warrior training’ for police, Mayor Jacob Frey says,” Star Tribune, April 18, 2020. 

“Minneapolis police union offers free ‘warrior’ training, in defiance of mayor’s ban,” Star Tribune, April 24, 2019. 

Minneapolis Banned Warrior-Style Police Training. Its Police Union Kept Offering It Anyway. – Mother Jones May 28, 2020.

Law Enforcement’s “Warrior” Problem, Stoughton, Seth, Harvard Law Review Forum, 125 Harv. L. Rev. F. 225, April 10, 2015. 

Minnesota State Task Force on Law Enforcement Education Reform Update and Report, March 12, 2021.

“Minnesota State colleges consider police training focus on anti-racism,” Star Tribune, March 17, 2021.

Updated June 8, 2021 @ 9:40 pm

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