MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo have announced changes to the Minneapolis Police Department's use of force policies, including an emphasis on de-escalation, and expanded requirements for reporting use of force.
Under the new policy taking effect Friday, officers will be required to provide a written explanation of their de-escalation efforts in all police reports, whether there was an authorized use of force or not.
Frey said the mandated de-escalation reporting has never been tried before in Minneapolis.
“We want to make sure that techniques to de-escalate a difficult situation,” the mayor said in an interview on Tuesday at City Hall, “are embedded in everything our police officers are doing.”
MPD leaders will soon be walking the officers through the changes at roll call, a spokesperson for the mayor said. Additional training will also be completed this fall.
The special order issued by the chief on Tuesday revises the “use of force reporting” section of the MPD manual. Under the updated policy, officers must include “any efforts to de-escalate prior to the use of force” in supplemental police reports. If they do use force, they’ll need to explain “why the officer decided to use force” and “why the officer decided to use the level or levels of force used.” Medical aid must also be included in the supplemental reports.
The new policy will require officers to report “joint manipulation,” “nerve pressure points,” “handcuffing” and “unholstering” of a weapon even if they didn’t point it anyone, among other types of force.Before the policy change, officers were not required to report arm bars, wrist locks, drawing a firearm, or use of handcuffs.
Officers will also be required to report whether medical aid or medical transport was needed. Additional reporting requirements are added if there was an injury as a result of a use of force tactic.
The policy also requires any officers using authorized takedown techniques or chemical agents to follow documentation requirements, including notifying a supervisor.
“A supervisor being involved in a situation, can kind of keep track more,” said Mylan Masson, a police training expert and the retired director of the Law Enforcement Program for the state of Minnesota. “If it’s over-excessive, they can then counsel, and maybe do some training that’s necessary.”
Masson helped KARE 11 analyze the new policy. To her knowledge, it is the only one she’s ever seen that mandates de-escalation in the reporting process. Some officers, however, already voluntarily report de-escalation as a matter of transparency.
The new policy does not impact de-escalation training procedures, but the mayor has argued that reporting requirements will encourage de-escalation as a “first resort” rather than a “last resort.”
“Good officers always do it,” Masson said. “Other officers who haven’t used it properly will now be more attentive to that, yes.”
MPD policies have been under heavy criticism and scrutiny since George Floyd died during a May arrest, after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes. Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter; three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting. All four officers were fired.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed a civil charge against MPD in the days following Floyd's death. The Minneapolis City Council later approved a year-long process to rebuild public safety in the city, including the potential disbanding and replacement of the current police department, if approved by voters.