Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Sunday announced tighter rules for reviewing officers’ body cameras that they say will provide more transparency and accountability.
They’re the latest moves the city is taking toward police reform amid calls for sweeping changes to law enforcement after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25.
On Sunday, Frey and Arradondo called the changes the “first of what will be a series of new public safety policy reforms.”
The previous policy allowed officers to review body camera footage before writing an initial report about an incident involving use of force. The new rules require that report to be written first.
Police said it’s designed to better capture officers’ perceptions at the time the officer acted.
The policy now aligns with rules for civilians, who are not allowed to review body camera footage before talking with police.
“In instances when an officer faces charges and a potential conviction, a clear understanding of what the officer perceived is an essential factor,” Frey said, adding that the change will help ensure that investigators, attorneys and jurors receive a transparent account of how an officer remembers the incident.
The policies also clarify time requirements for reports and provide more clarity to supervisors about immediate on-scene communications. Officers involved in the incident and those who saw it will be asked to file their reports “as soon as practical.”
Officers will also be restricted from talking to anyone at the scene about the incident, except for the incident commander and the lead investigator. They will no longer be allowed to talk to a union representative at the scene.
The new policies, which take effect on Tuesday, come amid renewed scrutiny of the Minneapolis Police Department and efforts to dismantle it following the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Police spokesman John Elder said he was told that all four officers had their body cameras on, which is department policy, but it’s not clear if any of them have seen the footage.
Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, said last week that he had not seen video from the incident. Earl Gray, attorney for former officer Thomas Lane, said he has seen his client’s body camera video.
The city would need to change its charter to implement the proposal, which requires a citywide vote. Council members are using an unconventional, expedited process as they seek to get the measure on the November ballot.
Frey said last week that the council is moving too fast and noted that a resolution that he and the council approved earlier promised a “yearlong process of community engagement.”
Earlier this month, the state of Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the Police Department’s policies and practices. Since then, the city announced it was withdrawing from labor negotiations with the police union.
Through a deal negotiated between the city and the state, the city also banned chokeholds and neck restraints and bolstered intervention requirements for officers who see a colleague using improper force.
Staff writer Liz Navratil and the Associated Press contributed to this report.