Promising reforms, Minneapolis police chief ends contract negotiations with union

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Wednesday said he is withdrawing from contract negotiations with the city's police union in order to focus on reforms and new accountability measures for his department.

Arradondo said he will look at contract provisions that cover use of force, grievances, and arbitration, and will seek input from outside experts and advisers. "There is nothing more debilitating to a chief from an employment matter perspective than when you have grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct and you're dealing with a third-party mechanism that allows for that employee to not only be back at your department, but to be patrolling in your communities," he said.

Critics of the union contract say it shields officers who use excessive force or otherwise engage in misconduct, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and former chief Janeé Harteau have both accused the union of blocking departmental reforms. Negotiations have been on hold since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and officers are working under an expired contract, NPR reports.

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In the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last month after a white Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, the city needs needs a "pathway and a plan that provides hope, reassurance, and actionable measures of reform," Arradondo said. He became Minneapolis' first black police chief in 2017, and believes that race is "inextricably a part of the American policing system. We will never evolve in this profession if we don't address it head on. Communities of color have paid the heaviest of costs, and that's with their lives."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.