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Floyd killing: Chief vows changes to put police on ‘right side of history’

MPR News Staff

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo vowed to make sweeping changes in how business is done in the department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday morning, the chief said that among his first steps would be withdrawing from contract talks with the police union. Arradondo said he wants the contract restructured to increase transparency and flexibility “for true reform” when it comes to the use of force, the role of supervisors and how officers are disciplined.

He expressed frustration about the difficulty of trying to fire an officer for misconduct, calling it “nothing more debilitating to a chief.”

Floyd’s Memorial Day death sparked protests in the Twin Cities and around the world after bystander video surfaced showing officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck in the street at Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in south Minneapolis as Floyd lay handcuffed and prone, pleading for air.

The medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.

The department is facing calls to be disbanded or defunded in the wake of the killing. State human rights officials are also investigating the past 10 years of Minneapolis police practices for possible civil rights violations.

The FBI is also probing for possible federal civil rights violations.

Arradondo said he’s heard from community members worried that the police might not come if they call 911 but vowed that would not happen. “We will be here for you,” he said.

The chief vowed to build a new system of policing. “History is being written now and I’m determined to make sure we are on the right side of history,” he said.

“Race is inextricably part of the American policing system. We will never evolve in this profession if we do not address it head on,” the chief said. “Communities of color have paid the heaviest of costs, and that is with their lives.”

Chauvin and three other officers on the scene that day have been fired. Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the killing. The three other fired officers face aiding and abetting charges.