Minneapolis police chief announces plan to withdraw from union negotiations

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June 10 (UPI) -- Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Wednesday announced a plan to withdraw from talks with the city's police union, among other reforms, after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of city officers.

Arradondo said the department would withdraw from contract negotiations with the Minneapolis Police Federation, which have already been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will bring on advisers to review how the contract can be restructured.

"I need to as chief step away from the table with the Minneapolis Police Federation and really take a deep dive in terms of how we can do something that has historically been something that is in the way of progress, that I've been hearing from many in our city," he said. "It's time that we have to evolve."

The advisers will specifically investigate the use of force and discipline processes, including grievances and arbitration, Arradondo said, adding that "there is nothing more debilitating to a chief" than when an arbitrator allows an officer who is fired to return to the force.

Further, he said, the department would implement new systems to monitor officer data to identify early signs of misconduct.

Arradondo said that he and Minneapolis Police Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll are having "very intentional" conversations, but would not comment on whether Kroll's removal as the head of the union would affect his plans.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey praised Arradondo announcement and said he has "a lot of leverage" in negotiations with the union.

"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 in unacceptable," Frey said.

City Council member Steve Fletcher, who joined a veto-proof majority pledging to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, described the plan to withdraw from the negotiation as an overstep of the city's authority.

"Announcing they're withdrawing from negotiations is what everyone wants to hear -- but it's actually not within our legal right to do," Fletcher said. "As a public employer, we have a duty to negotiate. This subjects us to an unfair labor practices lawsuit."

Floyd died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes as he said he was unable to breathe.

Chauvin was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder, while three other officers at the scene were also fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second-degree.

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