MINNEAPOLIS — Police officers in Minneapolis will be required to use the least harmful means possible to place persons under arrest, in an effort to curb fatal encounters.
Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo announced changes to the Minneapolis Police Department’s use-of-force policies, three months after George Floyd was killed while in police custody. The new policies will be implemented Sept. 8.
The department has always asserted firing a weapon or any other lethal force is the last option in any situation, but the changes announced Wednesday make that policy more clear to officers and recruits in the training academy.
The new policies spelled out by the mayor and chief also require officers to report every instance of unholstering a firearm or taser, and to explain why a weapon was drawn. Currently, there’s no such requirement. Officers will need to adhere to whichever option requires "the least use of force," and report the thought process on their actions.
In addition, threatening "the use of force" will be considered a use of force in it of itself, as well as drawing or displaying a weapon, and firing toward moving vehicles will now be prohibited.
Frey urged the need for an overhaul in arbitration for officers who are terminated by the mayor or Arradondo.
There will also be new working definitions of what “failure to comply” means during an encounter with a citizen. Use of force will be discouraged with persons who are passively resisting – remaining motionless and yet not complying with an officer’s orders. That would be treated differently than actively resisting, for instance breaking away from an officer after being handcuffed or physically confronting the officer.
Policing experts and unions often say suspects create an inherently dangerous situation when they fail to comply with an officer’s orders to stop. In the aftermath of Kenosha, Wisconsin officers shooting Jacob Blake in the back Sunday, Minneapolis Police Federation president Lt. Bob Kroll said Blake was failing to comply with orders from officers to stop walking away from them.
Body camera video has revealed that George Floyd stood against a wall after being handcuffed on Memorial Day at 38th and Chicago, but resisted efforts by officers to place him in their patrol vehicle. He wriggled out of the back seat of the police SUV before going to the pavement. At that point, three officers pinned him to the ground, and one of them – Derek Chauvin – held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd complained he couldn’t breathe.
All three officers, plus another who stood between citizens and the arresting officers, have been charged in the case.
The mayor says changes enacted by the Minnesota Legislature in July, in the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, give cities more flexibility when it comes to use of force and tracking of those encounters.
Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll issued the following statement:
“Rank and file officers, who the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis represents heard about this critical new policy just now through the media, as the administration has not yet discussed changes with the officers. We are working to review what this all entails, but believe it is careless to announce changes to a critical policy to the media before releasing the policy to officers – and training them – to implement the changes. This is another example of how the lack of training and poor political leadership hurts officers and the public.
We need to be focused on ending the extreme, escalated violence in our city. Homicides, shootings, and other types of crime are at unprecedented levels. Six people were shot over the weekend, and a 17-year-old girl was murdered. We need to be focusing on deterring criminals, and assisting and protecting victims of crime for a safer city for everyone.”