Minneapolis mayor, police chief announce new de-escalation standards for department

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced changes to the Minneapolis Police Department’s force reporting requirements Tuesday, which they say place a stronger emphasis on de-escalation.

According to the mayor's office, the new policy "expands the scope for force reporting requirements across the board, mandates more specificity and detail in MPD officers’ use of force reporting, and – for the first time in the department’s history – requires documentation of attempts to de-escalate in all police reports, whether or not the result was an authorized use of force." 

The changes come as city officials and the community call for drastic reforms to the Minneapolis Police Department following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

“This change will instill a stronger emphasis on de-escalation and help effectively curb excessive use of force by ensuring our officers center de-escalation in any-and-all interactions between officers and the community,” Frey said in a release. “These comprehensive reporting requirements will help reinforce de-escalation as the first resort, increase accountability where de-escalation is an after-thought, and provide improved data to head off problematic interactions before they happen.” 

“As the MPD continues to professionalize our service and make necessary reforms, these new changes in policy, strengthening de-escalation and Use Of Force reporting will play a key role in our efforts in building trust and legitimacy with all those we serve,” Chief Arradondo said in the release.

Under the new policy, which goes into effect July 17, officers will be required to provide an account of their strategies and attempts to de-escalate and written rationale with a description of the authorized force used, why the level of force was used, why the officer used that specific level of force, and what de-escalation strategies were attempted. Officers will also be required to document and report if medical aid was rendered, if the aid was rendered by the involved officers or EMS, and if there was a medical transport, by whom, and why.
Officers using authorized takedown techniques or deploying a chemical agent will also be required to follow the same documentation and reporting requirements as well as notify a supervisor.

“De-escalation shouldn’t be an afterthought, it shouldn’t be a last resort. De-escalation should be the first resort,” Mayor Frey said.

As the mayor is going one new policy at a time, the Minneapolis City Council remains focused on replacing the current police department with something new entirely.

The mayor and Chief Arradondo answered questions from the Charter Commission during a virtual meeting Tuesday as the agency weighs a vote to eliminate the police department from the City Charter.

“Are policy changes enough? No, they’re not,” Frey said during the meeting.

Mayor Frey called the proposal ambiguous and said, “it’s like a pick your own adventure story where the public gets to make the first choice and the council chooses the remaining 99.”