MINNEAPOLIS — As protests continue over the death of George Floyd, several police departments around the Twin Cities have spoken out in recent days on what they're doing for their communities.
Floyd died after a Minneapolis officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while restraining him. His death led to nationwide protests and unrest.
On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council endorsed an agreement banning Minneapolis police officers from using all chokeholds and neck restraints.
In the city of Bloomington, Police Chief Jeffrey Potts said Friday he was "appalled" by the "arrogance and neglect of duty" that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin displayed as Floyd struggled to breathe.
In his statement, Potts said that many have been asking what they have done to prevent such a tragedy from happening in Bloomington.
"First let me emphasize that, in Bloomington, we expect our officers to treat anyone in custody with respect and dignity. A person’s care while in our custody is of the utmost importance," Chief Potts said. His statement went on to highlight significant steps they've taken previously in regards to officer hiring, training, officer checkups and wellness, community engagement, critical debriefs and a focus on reducing deadly force encounters.
Anoka Police Chief Eric Peterson said that Floyd's death "sickened" him. In a video message published Friday, Peterson emphasized how the department realized more than four years ago that they weren't doing enough to build trust with citizens in the community. Since then, Peterson said, they've hosted their own events to build a bond with community members and give them faith in their police force.
"This has been especially true as we use these times to engage persons of color who live in our community," Peterson explained. "I believe that it's very difficult to be afraid of someone who you truly know. If we know each others' first name, what makes us laugh, what upsets us, what individual values are most important to us, then we can really understand that it's not an 'us and them' type of community, but rather a 'we'."
In a letter to the community, Hopkins Police Chief Brent Johnson said Thursday that police in Hopkins have focused for decades on "understanding and bringing about substantial and tangible change within Hopkins. We have built strong, lasting relationships. We have heard the voices of the people we serve. We have brought about change."
Chief Johnson added that they are accountable to the community and hear the voices asking for transparency. He went on to detail how the department's policies are available online and every use of force incident is documented and reviewed by "multiple police department supervisors." He also said they are extremely active in the community and utilize body cameras in their work.
"We do a lot. However, we know we can always do more and find ways to improve. We are listening," Johnson said.
Edina Police Chief Dave Nelson said Thursday that many have reached out with concerns and he's listening, welcoming "these tough conversations as they will help us continue to progress in law enforcement and heal from this tragedy together."
Nelson pointed out that the department's required training for officers and its Race and Equity work plan is available online. He described the department's hiring process as "lengthy and extremely in-depth to make sure that the person we are hiring meets those high standards and the City's values of integrity, quality and service."
"I can speak for all of our officers when I say that every member of the Edina Police Department takes pride in wearing our badge and we won't shy away from having these tough conversations. Our success depends on the trust from the public and we will work hard every day to earn and keep it," Nelson said.
In a message to Minnetonka residents, the city's leadership described how as "a predominantly white suburb only a handful of miles from Minneapolis, we’re forced to look harder at the disparities that exist right here in our community."
"It is our responsibility now and always to ask what role we can play in demanding equity where it is lacking. And then we must act," the message, signed by Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum, Police Chief Scott Boerboom and City Manager Geralyn Barone, stated.
The city said its police chief will openly discuss the department’s use-of-force policy and de-escalation training at a June 8 council meeting and it'll soon be putting info about specific police policies and training on the city's website. Additionally, the Minnetonka Police Department plans to continue working closely with local faith leaders and communities of color to gain a better understanding of all voices in the city, and to learn where they need to step up and make changes.