MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Police Department has initiated policy changes it hopes will ensure residents receive the best possible service.
The department also hopes the changes will increase transparency and public trust. The big change comes in the department’s use of force policy.
The Sanctity of Life and the Protection of the Public is now the cornerstone of that policy, and that’s not all. Police Chief Janee Harteau says these policy changes are consistent with national best practices standards and 21st century policing.
More importantly, she hopes the policy changes will bring about more trust between community and police.
“To move us forward my role must be to create a balance of appropriate level of enforcement, community engagement, community partnership,” Chief Harteau said.
The four new policy changes focus on improving officer actions and accountability. Sanctity of Life and the Protection of the Public is now the cornerstone of MPD’s use of force policy, and at the forefront of how officers will now be trained.
“The question every officer should ask themselves: ‘Did my actions reflect how I would want a family member of mine to be treated?'” Harteau said.
Officers are now required to intervene and let higher-ups know if they witness officer misconduct. There is also a new emphasis on the de-escalation of situations, taking officers out of harm’s way and protecting the lives of those they serve.
“Training officers in the appropriate use of distance and cover to protect themselves and to slow down calls when they can,” Commander Troy Schoenberger said.
Harteau says in order for police to be effective or trusted, they must address explicit and implicit bias, be seen as legitimate, trusted and grounded in constitutional policing.
“We have to build relationships,” KG Wilson said.
Community activist KG Wilson says at one time, relationships between police and community were solid.
“We were building it and people’s mindsets were changing and they were starting to open their doors and saying okay maybe we can trust,” Wilson said.
Wilson says the shooting of Jamar Clark in north Minneapolis had a negative impact on those relationships. He thinks the policy changes are a good restart to better relations, and so do others who work for the community and believe it takes everyone to make change.
“It won’t undo unless we help undo it and the only way you can do that is to be partners in that change. Period,” Lisa Clemons said.
The 32 new police recruits starting the academy Monday will be the first officers to receive training connected with the new policies.