MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The U.S. Department of Justice just announced a new initiative that would provide more resources for police departments, and they want Minneapolis to take part.

The initiative was announced Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Representatives from the Department of Justice stood next to Minneapolis’s top cop to announce an initiative they hope will change the culture within the Minneapolis Police Department.

“Our goal here today and going forward is to keep everyone safe and secure,” assistant attorney general Eric S. Dreiband said.

It’s a $3 million grant to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a nonprofit in northern Virginia that works on advancing policing.

Where Minneapolis comes into play is that the justice department thinks the city can benefit from the many bits of expertise this association has.

If Minneapolis accepts the partnership, it will get someone assigned to focus on the Minneapolis Police Department, effectively becoming a consultant.

Katie Sullivan, principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice, explained what some of that work might look like.

“Making sure that use-of-force policies are not only in writing but are also being implemented, that you have good recruitment tools, retention tools, and — equally as important — you are working with the health and safety of law enforcement officers, their resiliency, and their safety,” Sullivan said.

This can’t pass with Chief Medaria Arradondo alone. He needs approval from the city to make it happen.

“As we’ve seen an unprecedented spike in violent crime in our city — over 400 people shot and wounded in Minneapolis, which is unconscionable, our homicides have more than doubled — we can not do this work alone,” Arradondo said.

Arradondo didn’t give a temperature on how Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey or the Minneapolis City Council feels about this, other than that he’s had conversations and he’s hopeful.

After the announcement the DOJ met behind closed doors with members of the community. Community leaders say what upset them most is hearing Minneapolis City Council members did not want to sit down with federal officials.

“Where do you go when you don’t respect the citizens, the human beings, the people of color, or the government offices that came today?” Spike Moss said.

“We’re doing everything we can with no resources, and then somebody comes in and the City Council is the one that says they don’t want to give the resources. And then the City Council says we can’t have help. So what does that telling us that they are going to let us continue to die,” Al Flowers said.

These community leaders say they know the Minneapolis Police Department has been under pressure to reform while dealing with staff shortages and increased violence citywide. What they want is all hands on deck to stop the shooting and start investing in reforms for MPD.

On Tuesday afternoon, Minneapolis City Council president Lisa Bender said she “wasn’t aware” that Frey or Arradondo were in discussions about the initiative.

“(I) learned about the Department of Justice announcement in the media. I haven’t seen the details of a grant application or Memorandum of Understanding and will review any information that comes to the City Council carefully,” Bender said.

Reg Chapman

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