George Floyd protests: Minneapolis police force drops talks with union headed by Trump loyalist

Chief Medaria Arradondo says this is one step of many to provide 'transparency and more flexibility for true reform' in policing 

Danielle Zoellner
Wednesday 10 June 2020 17:56
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Minneapolis police chief announces department will break contract negotiations with union

Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the department would immediately withdraw from the police union contract negotiations as one of a series of agency reforms following the death of George Floyd.

This first step of many, Mr Arradondo said, was in an effort to provide "transparency and more flexibility for true reform" for how the department polices citizens.

"I plan to bring in subject matter experience and advisers to conduct a thorough review of how the contract can be restructured to provide greater community transparency and more flexibility for true reform," the police chief said during a press conference on Wednesday. "Now this is not about employees benefit, wages or salary, but this is further examining those significant matters that touch on such things as critical incident protocol, our use of force, the significant role that supervisors play in this department and also the discipline process to include both grievances and arbitration."

Negotiations would now halt with the Minneapolis Police Federation, a group that sometimes represents officers who face misconduct enquiries from their employer.

"For my chief peers here in the state and across the country, there is nothing more debilitating from a chief's perspective than when you have grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct and you have to deal with a third party that allows the officer not only to be rehired, but patrolling in our communities," Mr Arradondo added.

Lt Bob Kroll, the president of the city's police union, and his group has come under fire in recent years over the response to mistreatment by police officers. Neither the union nor Mr Kroll has responded to the death of Mr Floyd, which involved four former Minneapolis police officers.

During a 2019 rally, Mr Kroll proved to be a Donald Trump loyalist after he spoke to supporters while donning a "Cops for Trump" t-shirt. He called the Obama administration "despicable" for its handling of law enforcement, adding: "The first thing President Trump did when he took office was turn that around ... he decided to start to let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of us."

Mr Arradondo sidestepped questions from reporters on if Mr Kroll should resign, as critics of the union leader believe he works as an obstacle for police reform. Calls for Mr Kroll's resignation heightened after he sent a letter to union members stating the termination of the four officers was without due process and people were using police officers as "scapegoats" for the continued violence.

Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after video footage showed him pressing his knee into the neck of Mr Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The other three officers were later arrested and charged with aiding and abetting.

Other reforms within the Minneapolis Police Department would include "real time data to intervene with officers involved in problem behaviour", Mr Arradondo added.

The police chief also addressed if being a rookie cop was excuse enough for misconduct when on the job. Two of the officers involved in Mr Floyd's death are using the defence that they only had a few days under their belt before the incident.

"The policies that I put out for our department, those policies are not guided in years of service. I don't put policies out to say that you should only react or respond if you're a two-year member or a five-year member or a ten-year member," he said.

Mr Arradondo added he expected the same behaviour for police whether they had "two days on or 20 years on" the job.

"When our members put on this badge our communities should not expect any service or treatment different because you are two days on or 20 years on," he said. "We expect you to – whether it's verbally or physically – to call out for help and to intervene. Mr. Floyd at the very least, was expecting that."

What Mr Arradondo saw from the video involving the four officers "was not training that I ever participated in, none that I observed".

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