The Minneapolis Police Department has updated its use-of-force policy to make de-escalation a core approach in how officers respond to volatile and potentially violent encounters on the job.
MPD leaders and Mayor Betsy Hodges outlined the changes at a news conference at City Hall on Aug. 8. In addition to emphasizing de-escalation, the changes include making “sanctity of life” a cornerstone of the-use-of-force policy, holding officers responsible for intervening in situations where another officer is inappropriately applying use of force, and requiring officers to report instances of misconduct to their supervisor.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the policy changes follow recommendations from President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released in May.
The changes also come as MPD leaders are working on restoring trust with the community following the high-profile police shooting deaths of Jamar Clark in North Minneapolis and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights.
Harteau also said the department faces challenges at a time when heated rhetoric has become the norm.
“We are inundated with extreme thinking, which is adding to the volatility and creative divisiveness at levels frankly we’ve never seen,” she said. “I have no doubt that change is needed and it must happen now.”
Commander Troy Schoenberger said 32 new recruits at the Minneapolis Police Academy will be the first to receive new comprehensive training in de-escalation. The rest of the department will undergo the training by the end of they year. The goal is to get officers to slow down when faced with highly charged situations.
Hodges highlighted many other reforms underway within the MPD, including the new body camera program, implicit bias training, prioritizing a diverse police force and an early intervention system designed to detect problem behaviors among officers.