Minneapolis Police Make Policy Changes Aimed at Defusing Conflicts

August 08, 2016 10:17 PM

The Minneapolis Police Department has announced four policy changes aimed at defusing conflicts between officers and the public that can turn deadly.

Chief Janee Harteau said Monday the "sanctity of life" is the cornerstone of her department's use-of-force policy. She says officers should use de-escalation tactics whenever reasonably possible, while slowing down situations to reduce the risk of injury to officers and the public.  

Minneapolis resident Jean Shankey took in the new rules and had this to say: "If it can't be slowed down, sometimes you have to act with force, but on the other hand if you don't take in all the information that's around you might miss something and somebody didn't have to get hurt."

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The changes also give officers a duty to intervene to prevent others from using force improperly and a duty to report misconduct. The American Civil Liberties Union is a frequent critic of police policy, but not this time, according to Teresa Nelson.

"There are officers who want to be empowered to be able to report misconduct, but you can't change a culture overnight."

Harteau says the changes were in development before the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in a confrontation with officers last fall, and declined to speculate on how that incident might have developed differently if the new policies had been in place then.

"We cannot have public safety without public trust," she said.

Harteau also says they are hoping to prompt a shift in the mindset of officers and the community.

"As a society we have always taught and told officers we want a quick resolution, but it's important we let officers know it's OK to slow down, it's OK to back up when it's reasonable," she said.


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