By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We live in a time where police work is under serious scrutiny. But what does reform look like to police chiefs who also happen to be Black?

The Urban League of the Twin Cities sponsored a virtual discussion Friday between the Black police chiefs of Minnesota.

“People need to know when we engage with them as peace officers we are not discounting them as human beings and we are seeing them as valued members. And by the way that’s not only victims, that’s suspects as well,” said Chief Medaria Arradondo.

Minneapolis’ first Black police chief, Arradondo, says it starts with respect, and officers treating each community member as a part of the human family.

“I think creating an understanding of what the community expectations and then for law enforcement to explain what we do in policing and why and try to bridge that gap,” Said Chief Roger New, the first Black police chief from Eagan.

Roger New is the first Black Police Chief in Eagan.

Besides building relationships, these top officers say making sure police are mentally fit is crucial.

“We’re not doing enough to make sure that officers are in the right space and the right place that we need to be in order to do our jobs,” said Suwana Kirkland, president of the Minnesota Black Police Officers Association.

He says mental health checkups are necessary to ensure cops are in the right frame of mind to serve and protect the public.

“Any sort of real transformational change and reform that’s got to be community led and driven,” Arradondo said. That community includes the thousands of officers who want to see real reform.

“They are our allies and they want what’s best for this profession, and regardless what color, they want what’s best,” Kirkland said.

The main message from their discussion:  No one person is responsible for reform. We all have to do that together.

Reg Chapman