Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo pushed back Wednesday at the City Council’s calls to defund and dismantle the department, saying he will not “abandon” residents and communities that police need to “protect.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Arradondo was asked about the “defund the police,” movement which has gained momentum in recent days.
“As chief I am obligated to [ensure] the public safety of our residents,” Arradondo said. “I will not abandon that.”
He went on to note that elected officials “certainly can engage in those conversations," but said that “until there is a robust plan that will protect” residents of Minneapolis, “I will not leave them behind.”
Meanwhile, Arradondo announced that the Minneapolis Police Department is withdrawing from union contract negotiations, in one of the first steps of reform to the agency in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last month.
Arradondo explained that he wants to eliminate third parties in the process of terminating officers who have been proven to have committed misconduct, while noting that “there is nothing more debilitating from an employment matter perspective than when you have grounds to terminate an employee for his conduct” but are prevented due to a third party presence, referring to the police union.
Arradondo noted that he is “concerned” about how union contracts are designed and said that the traditional process in terms of those contracts is “antiquated.”
“As chief I think now is the time to step away from that and start anew,” he said.
Arradondo outlined the “significant” reforms he is working to establish within the department, including an examination of use of force, the role of supervisors and the discipline process “to include both grievances and arbitration.”
Arradondo said he would “implement new procedures so that department leaders can identify early warning signs of misconduct,” and will rely “on real-time data.”
“Race is inextricably part of the American policing system,” he said. “We will never evolve in this profession if we do not address it head on.”
Arradondo said that “communities of color have paid the heaviest cost, and that is with their lives.”
Arradondo said that he recognized that parts of the Minneapolis Police Department “were broken” when he first joined.
“I did not abandon this department then and I will not abandon this department now,” he said. “History is being written now and I am determined that we are on the right side of history.”
On the day of Floyd's death, May 25, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called police and accused Floyd of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd, who was black, was then arrested and handcuffed by officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, and pushed to the ground.
Video shows Chauvin with his knee pressed to the back of Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air. Floyd, 46, later died.
Chauvin and three other officers were fired in connection with Floyd's death.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and the three other officers on the scene have been arrested.
Arradondo was asked about the “rookie” officers on the scene of Floyd’s death, and responded: “The policies I put out for the department, those policies are not guided in years of service.
“I do not put out policies that you should only react or respond if you’re a two-year member, five-year member, 10-year member,” he explained. “If policies get in the way, I expect and demand one’s humanity to rise above that.”
He added: "We expect you to be professional, have a duty and care for life."
Arradondo said that he is “absolutely” committed to reforming the police department, but noted that they need “community support.”
“This is going to take time. It is going to take time, it is going to be a heavy lift, and it is going to be hard work,” he said. “But the men and women of this department are not going to let Mr. Floyd’s death be in vain, and they will not let the actions of few tarnish what…they continue to work so hard for.”