LWV Minneapolis is following city and community efforts to reimagine public safety. Learn about the issues ahead of the next election. And VOTE!
WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO ENSURE TRAGEDIES LIKE GEORGE FLOYD AND AMIR LOCKE WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN?
Police violence against people of color didn’t start with the murder of George Floyd. Minneapolis has a long history of violence against minorities. And this is a problem across the country that many would argue is 400 years old. A problem of hundreds of years will take many years to fully address. The city and state have made a number of changes to eliminate the behaviors that led to these tragedies and others. But rule and behavior changes are not enough, the culture also must change and that takes longer.
Behavior and Rule Changes
Immediately after the murder of George Floyd a number of rule changes were made by the city and the state of Minnesota:
- A ban on chokeholds and neck restraints
- A ban on officers reviewing body camera footage prior to completing initial police reports
- A ban on officers in critical incidents talking to union officials at the crime scene
- Mandated de-escalation efforts prior to use of force – with a requirement to document those efforts
- A duty for officers to intervene verbally and physically if they see another officer use inappropriate force. And a duty to immediately report it
- More body camera policy changes including banning officers from turning off cameras during private conversations at an incident scene
- Prohibition of no-knock warrants
- Implementation of a new Discipline Matrix that clearly reflects department values and the seriousness of policy violation
- Implementation of new, secondary level of oversight for use of force incidents by higher-ranking supervisor (5/2022)
- Restrictions on who can use less-lethal munitions like tear gas and rubber bullets, and when they can be used
The MPD has acknowledged the importance of culture, particularly in creating trust with the community, and have introduced several programs to start to address:
- A ban on ‘warrior style’ training
- Duty to intervene training (introduced 12/2021 and 96% of all officers completed as of spring 2022)
- De-escalation training (introduced 4/2022 and expect 90% of all officers completed end 2022)
- Updated Field Training Officer (FTO) Program
- Recruiting for a newly created Training position as recommended in the Community Safety Work Group report.
- Data and communications improvement projects to increase transparency and strengthen management oversight
- New recognition programs that support department values, including a de-escalation award and FTO award
Police Officer Mental Health and Wellness
Nationally, more police officers die by suicide than are killed in the line of duty.
Despite the stress of this difficult job, the culture of some departments discourages officers who seek mental health assistance. With the reduction by one-third of sworn officers in the MPD following the murder of George Floyd, overtime is used extensively and can create more stress.
In recent MPD Initiatives, Interim Chief Huffman stated employee wellness as one policy goal. To address the mental health challenges, three actions are in place:
- New duty time restrictions to protect employee wellness and department readiness by limiting the number of hours employees may work, whether in overtime or security contract work
- Provision of Trauma Psychological Services to all MPD employees. The mental health professionals will provide debriefings in the aftermath of a traumatic incident, weekly or bi-weekly group sessions, individual counseling sessions, peer support, family support and training support
- A Health & Wellness Manager will be hired to create, implement and coordinate a robust wellness program.
Although there have been several changes instituted in the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Amir Locke and others, change will come only with long-term focus on execution and accountability. There is still more to be addressed as outlined by the Community Safety Work Group and the MN Department of Human Rights.
400 Years of Chains: The Over-policing of Black Bodies and the Devaluing of Black Pain, IAPHS, Rashawn Ray, 2019
Picking Up the Pieces - Minneapolis Case Study, ACLU, April 15, 2015
Picking up the Pieces - Recommendations, ACLU, May 2015
Police Reform Work, Current MPD Initiatives, Minneapolis city website, June 2022
Death by suicide among police is a quiet epidemic. It needs to be acknowledged, Washington Post, August 9, 2021
Thanks to overtime, nearly three-fourths of Minneapolis cops made six-figure incomes last year, Minnesota Reformer, May 26, 2022