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Minneapolis Police Department is withdrawing from union contract negotiations, chief says

Minneapolis police chief calls for reform
Minneapolis police chief calls for reform 04:05

The Minneapolis Police Department will withdraw from police union contract negotiations, Chief Medaria Arradondo said Wednesday in announcing the first steps in what he said would be transformational reforms to the agency in the wake of George Floyd's death. Arradondo said a thorough review of the contract is planned, which will draw on outside experts.

The police chief said the contract needs to be restructured to provide more transparency and flexibility for true reform. The review would look at matters such as critical incident protocols, use of force, and disciplinary protocols including grievances and arbitration.

He said it's debilitating for a chief when there are grounds to terminate an officer and a third-party mechanism works to keep that person on the street.

"This work must be transformational, but I must do it right," Arradondo said of reforms.

When asked by a reporter whether the union contract prevents him from managing his department in a way that ensures all officers act appropriately, he said, "I think it's very clear that we have to evolve."

"I think the traditional process in terms of the union contracts are probably antiquated and not meeting the needs of all vested stakeholders," Arradondo said. "As chief, I think now is the time to step away from that and start anew."

He also promised new research and strategies to spot and intervene with problem officers by using data to flag potential problems early. The department has also agreed to interim reforms including banning chokeholds ahead of a state human rights investigation that will result in a court-enforced reform plan.

Arradondo sidestepped a question about whether he thought Minneapolis Police Federation head Lt. Bob Kroll, seen by many as an obstacle to reform, should step down.

Lieutenant Bob Kroll
Lieutenant Bob Kroll CBS Minnesota

Calls are mounting for Kroll to resign after he sent a letter to union members in which he said the officers charged involved in Floyd's death were terminated without due process, and referred to Floyd as a "violent criminal" in referencing his previous criminal history. The letter also blasted state and local response to the protests, calling them a "terrorist movement," and accused local leaders of scapegoating the department.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey hailed the decision to withdraw from union contract negotiations and said Arradondo has his full support in leading the department through "dramatic and sweeping" change.

"We don't just need a new contract with the police — we need a new compact with police, one that centers around compassion and accountability, one that recognizes that the way things have been done for decades and decades is not acceptable," Frey said. "We need change."

Frey called the police union the "elephant in the room" when it comes to the years-long push for changes at the department. He said Kroll has "not been helpful in any way shape or form" in efforts to generate reform.

"The rhetoric that Bob Kroll has put out is detrimental not just to our city, but also to the police department," Frey said. "For someone that complains so much about a lack of support and trust in police officers, he's the primary — he's one of the primary reasons for that lack of trust and support."

Janee Harteau, the former Minneapolis chief, has called Kroll "a disgrace to the badge" and called on him to resign. Speaking with CBS News' Jamie Yuccas, Harteau said she believes systemic racism is an issue in all police departments, but that problems in the Minneapolis police department start with Kroll.

Kroll could not be reached for comment.

Arradondo, the city's first African American police chief, joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 1989 as a patrol officer, eventually working his way up to precinct inspector and head of the Internal Affairs Unit, which investigates officer misconduct allegations. Along the way, he and four other black officers successfully sued the department for discrimination in promotions, pay and discipline.


Editor's note: The Minneapolis Police Federation president, Lieutenant Bob Kroll, is married to Liz Collin, a reporter for CBS station WCCO-TV. Collin has not covered the department for more than two years.  

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