Minneapolis police chief pulls out of union negotiations in steps toward reform

KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty ImagesBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS

(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) — Saying they have to “evolve,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced steps to reform the embattled Minneapolis Police Department.

Effective immediately, the department is withdrawing from contract negotiations with the police union, Minneapolis Police Federation, Arradondo said Wednesday at a press briefing. The chief said he plans to conduct a review of how the contract can be restructured “to provide greater community transparency and more flexibility for true reform.”

The department will also introduce a system that tracks police behavior, Arradondo said. Through a new partnership with Benchmark Analytics, it will monitor officer behavior in real-time to “identify early warning signs of misconduct and provide strategies to intervene,” he said.

“It’s going to be some hard work, but I am determined that we are going to be on the right side of history,” Arradondo said.

The announcement comes following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after he was pinned down by a white Minnesota police officer. In a 10-minute cellphone video, Floyd, 46, was seen pleading with former officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, telling him that he could not breathe as Chauvin’s knee pressed against the back of his neck.

The four former officers have all since been charged in Floyd’s death, and protests have erupted across the country calling for an end to police brutality.

Arradondo said addressing race “head-on” when it comes to policing in America will be the only way to move forward and “evolve.”

“Communities of color have paid the heaviest of cost, and that is with their lives,” he said. “And our children must be safeguarded from ever having to contribute to the horrific and shameful chapter of this country’s history.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey voiced his support of the chief’s decision to withdraw from the union contract negotiations.

“It shows courage, it shows integrity,” Frey said Wednesday at a press briefing.

The two measures come as local activists and organizers echo yearslong calls for drastic changes to policing. The Minneapolis City Council has been at the forefront of those demands. On Friday, it voted unanimously in an emergency hearing for immediate reforms within the police department, including banning chokeholds and other neck restraints.

On Sunday, the city council also announced its intent to disband the Minneapolis Police Department in favor of a more community-oriented agency, with the backing of a veto-proof majority. The city council said it plans to redirect funds from the police department to other community-safety strategies.

“Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe,” City Council President Lisa Bender said at a rally Sunday afternoon.

Following the police chief’s briefing Wednesday, Bender responded on Twitter saying, “Let’s be clear: the path forward for our city requires transparent leadership and meaningful, effective change.”

In response to calls to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, Arradondo said that until it happens, he will continue working to reform the department.

Frey has also spoken out against disbanding the police department.

ABC News’ Rachel A. Katz and Alex Perez contributed to this report.

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