POLICE

Minneapolis police chief takes on union, promises reform

Jun 10, 2020, 1:10 PM
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo listens to a question from the media where he discussed ...
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo listens to a question from the media where he discussed police reforms, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 in Minneapolis. The meeting follows the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in police custody after video shared online by a bystander showed former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis Police Department will withdraw from police union contract negotiations, Chief Medaria Arradondo said Wednesday, as he announced initial steps in what he said would be transformational reforms to the agency in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Faced with calls from activists and a majority of City Council members to dismantle or defund the department, Arradondo also said he would use a new system to identify problem officers and intervene if there are early warning signs of trouble.

“We will have a police department that our communities view as legitimate, trusting and working with their best interests at heart,” he told reporters during a news conference more than two weeks after Floyd died after a white officer pressed his knee into the handcuffed black man’s neck even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Activists have pointed to racial inequities and brutality, as well as a system that refuses to discipline problem officers. The officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, had 17 complaints against him and had been disciplined only once.

Arradondo said issued of racism need to be addressed head on and that a first step in making changes would be a thorough review of the union contract. He said it’s debilitating for a chief when an officer does something that calls for termination, but the union works to keep that person on the job, and on the street.

Advisers will look for ways to restructure the contract to provide more transparency and flexibility, he said. The review will look at critical incident protocols, use of force, and disciplinary protocols, including grievances and arbitration, among other things.

“This work must be transformational, but I must do it right,” Arradondo said.

The current police union contract expired on Dec. 31 but remains in effect until there is a new one, according to the city’s website. The city said negotiations started in October, and the last discussion was in early March.

Messages left with union President Bob Kroll were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey supported the chief’s decisions.

“Additional accountability between the people and the police needs to be matched with internal ability to closely monitor police behavior and intervene early to prevent more tragedy,” Frey said in a statement.

Arradondo sidestepped a question about whether he thought Kroll, often seen as an obstacle to changes, should step down. He also didn’t directly answer a question about whether residents should worry about a slowdown in police response time as a pushback against attempts to transform the department. Some City Council members have said in the past that their wards saw such slowdowns when they complained about police action.

Arradondo fired the four officers who were at the scene of the encounter with Floyd even before they were criminally charged. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting the second-degree murder and manslaughter counts.

Arradondo’s predecessor, Janee Harteau, and Frey are among those who have complained that the police union is a roadblock to change. Frey told “Good Morning America” this week that the city has difficulty terminating and disciplining officers because of the union. Bob Bennett, an attorney who said he has sued the department “hundreds” of times over police misconduct allegations, has said that the union has more sway over police conduct than chiefs do.

While a majority of City Council members called for dismantling the department, they provided no clear plan on how that would happen. Frey has said he would not support abolishing the department.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the four officers, told The Associated Press in an interview earlier Wednesday that he’s not calling for dismantling or defunding the department but that the people who are “should be listened to rather than dismissed.”

He said it was fair to question whether community groups that fight against gun violence should get more money, for example, and whether schools with officers should also have more nurses and counselors.

“Nobody’s saying defund safety,” Ellison said. “What they’re doing is they’re challenging the 19th, 20th century model of how we deliver safety … how it’s not really working very well and coming up with alternatives.”

Arradondo, the city’s first African American police chief, joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 1989 as a patrol officer, working his way up to precinct inspector and head of the Internal Affairs Unit, which investigates officer misconduct allegations. Along the way, he and four other black officers successfully sued the department for discrimination in promotions, pay and discipline.

He was promoted to assistant chief in early 2017, then became chief later that year, after Harteau was fired for the way she handled the fatal police shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an Australian native who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.

Many hoped Arradondo could alter the culture of a department that critics said too frequently used excessive force and discriminated against people of color. Arradondo made some quick changes, including toughening the department’s policy on use of body cameras. But critics have said more needs to be done.

Today’s Top Stories

Police

The Kaysville Fourth of July Parade is canceled after a medical emergency....
Kira Hoffelmeyer

8-year-old girl in critical condition after getting injured at Kaysville parade

KAYSVILLE, Utah — An 8-year-old has been critically injured during the Kaysville City Fourth of July parade. Kaysville Police say the girl was taken to a hospital for her injuries. This happened at 175 S. Main St in Kaysville. It’s unclear if the child fell off the float and was hit, or if she was […]
1 day ago
Police in Highland Park, Illinois, respond to a shooting at a Fourth of July event....
Eric Levenson, Adrienne Broaddus, Shawn Nottingham and Brynn Gingras, CNN. Mark Jackson

Police have arrested a ‘person of interest’ after a mass shooting at July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois

Robert E. Crimo III, a person of interest in a mass shooting at a parade that left six dead and sent more than two dozen people to hospitals, has been taken into custody near Lake Forest, Illinois, authorities said during a brief news conference. Authorities said Crimo was spotted by a North Chicago officer who […]
1 day ago
Image from the scene of the shooting on South Major street in Salt Lake City (Photo courtesy of SLC...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: SLCPD arrest two in connection to Sunday’s Ballpark neighborhood shooting

Police received multiple calls regarding shots fired near 1485 South Major Street at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday July 3, 2022. 
2 days ago
The scene of the shooting at 900 S. 200 West (Photo courtesy of Adam Sotelo)...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: Shooting on TRAX platform leaves one dead, one injured

Police responded to reports of shots fired on a TRAX platform near 900 South and 200 West at around 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
2 days ago
SUV Crashes into Famous Footwear in Sugar House....
Waverly Golden

Update: Vehicle crashes into Famous Footwear, leaving four injured

A crash at a Famous Footwear in Sugar House leaves four injured.
3 days ago
Photo of Riverton Police, the ones who sent out the amber alert, vehicle...
Mark Jones

8-year-old boy struck by car in Riverton, suffers head injury

Riverton police an 8-year-old boy suffered a head injury Friday night after a collision with a vehicle. The boy was transported to Primary Children's Hospital.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Minneapolis police chief takes on union, promises reform