A coalition of community organizations on Wednesday called on Minneapolis City Council members to get tough with the Police Department and the police union as contract talks continue.
Police officers have been working under a contract set to expire in December as both sides continue working toward a new three-year deal.
Traditionally, the council has simply rubber-stamped police contracts without pushing for provisions that increased officer accountability, argued several speakers at Wednesday’s meeting of the Public Safety Committee.
“These contract negotiations need to be more than just tweaking a few employment terms and changing the dates at the top of the page,” Cheryl Persigehl, a longtime Minneapolis resident, told committee members.
Coalition leaders held a news conference before the meeting to outline their 14 recommendations for making “sensible and significant changes” to the contract, including putting in language that addresses limiting the number of hours officers can work, regular mental health screenings and a more flexible staffing model that would offer supervisors more leeway to reassign officers “based on skill, experience, and conduct.”
The coalition appears to have taken a page from the playbook of national organizations like Campaign Zero that advocate for increased police accountability through collective bargaining.
Racial Justice Network member Pete Gamades said during the meeting that council members, several of whom ran on the promise of police reform, had to seize “this unique opportunity” to add in particular a clause addressing the process by which officers bid for assignments.
“So before we talk about adding more officers, we need to think about how we do so more efficiently,” said Gamades, who helped compile the recommendations. “We’re asking you to exert your influence.”
Union President Lt. Bob Kroll said Wednesday that negotiators for both sides had only met twice so far, but that he didn’t expect a long, drawn-out battle like the last time the contract was up for renewal.