Revised Minneapolis Police Department policy requires officers to use lowest level of force necessary

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced an overhaul of the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force policy Wednesday as part of the city’s attempt to reform the police department following the deadly arrest of George Floyd.

Frey said the policy changes are a comprehensive overhaul of MPD guidelines and protocol regarding use of force.

The department’s revised use of force policy requires officers consider all reasonable alternatives before resorting to deadly force. Under the new policy, officers are required to use the lowest level of force needed to control a subject safely.

Officers that resort to deadly force will have to document how they considered reasonable alternatives in any post-incident report.

“Even if a more aggressive force could be justified under state or federal law, the City of Minneapolis will expect our officers to conduct themselves under our best practices, not just the bare minimum that is laid out or that which is legally permissible,” Frey said.

The revised policy also bans officers from shooting at moving vehicles with a few exceptions, such as if the vehicle is being driven threateningly into a crowd of people.

Arradondo said one area getting closer attention in use of force training and implementation is the act of an officer unholstering their firearm and pointing it at a subject. He said it is threatening, traumatic and damages the public’s trust, even if the situation does not escalate further.

Floyd died on May 25 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers. Body camera video from Thomas Lane, one of the now-fired Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd's death, shows that at the beginning of the incident, he approached Floyd's driver's side window with his gun out. The video shows Floyd was alarmed by having Lane's gun in his face and he became agitated and upset. The gun and its positioning appeared to set the events of the deadly arrest in motion. 

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Frey acknowledged, “There are no cure alls to policing.” He reiterated that the city needs an overhaul of the arbitration process so as not to return officers to the force after they are fired.

The policy changes will take effect Sept. 8.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the police union, responded to the changes with the following statement:

“Rank and file officers, who the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis represents, heard about this critical new policy just now through the media, as the administration has not yet discussed changes with the officers. We are working to review what this all entails, but believe it is careless to announce changes to a critical policy to the media before releasing the policy to officers – and training them – to implement the changes. This is another example of how the lack of training and poor political leadership hurts officers and the public.

"We need to be focused on ending the extreme, escalated violence in our city. Homicides, shootings, and other types of crime are at unprecedented levels. Six people were shot over the weekend, and a 17-year-old girl was murdered. We need to be focusing on deterring criminals, and assisting and protecting victims of crime for a safer city for everyone."