a response to de facto police immunity?

Minneapolis police are about to be dismantled, the city council said on Sunday. Three weeks after the death of George Floyd who set fire to the powder, the authorities believe that the police institution cannot be reformed. Blame many experts on the police union and its chief Bob Kroll.

More police in Minneapolis? City Council members in the episode of the protests against police violence in the United States voted overwhelmingly on Sunday, June 7 to dismantle the local police department.

Selected officials have admitted that the process would be long and uncertain, but they believe that Georges Tryd’s tragic fate, an African-American who died in a police check three weeks ago, has proved impossible to reform this institution.

The impossible police reform

This finding appears to be a slap in the face to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and his police chief, Madaria Arradondo, two progressive individuals in the Minnesota political landscape who have worked for years to reform local police. The day before the municipal council’s shock announcement, Jacob Frey had again expressed his opposition to the dismantling hypothesis and had drawn anger from the protesters. Instead of the crowd, the municipal council was convinced that by redefining the balance of power with the local police union and “by relying more on other relays with communities”, it was still possible to save local police furniture.

On paper, Minneapolis is among the American cities that have done the most to change the face of their police. Police Chief Madaria Arradondo’s arrival, 2017, the first African American to hold the post, was accompanied by a series of measures to eliminate some of the most controversial police practices. In particular, he forced the officers to turn on their body cameras as soon as they went on a mission and ended the practice of systematically prosecuting all cannabis consumers or retailers. This habit was considered to be particularly discriminatory as the overwhelming majority of those arrested were of African American descent.

Jacob Frey struggled to ban controversial police training aimed at preparing officers to anticipate every situation on the ground as potentially conflicting. He also released information on police violence.

Since 2015, three years before the election of Jacob Frey, the City Council has adopted more than a dozen police reforms, published on the website The Intercept. The most recent, which was voted in July 2019, provided for the establishment of a special unit to investigate police violence. But the Covid-19 epidemic postponed creation to a later date.

However, these efforts have not been sufficient to reduce the number of complaints against the police that have remained stable since 2012, points out the Wall Street Journal. Since then, there have been 2,600, of which only 12 have resulted in disciplinary action, the company says daily. In more than half of the incidents involving the use of firearms by a police officer, the person concerned was black, while only 18% of the population of Minneapolis is of African American origin.

Bob Kroll, unofficial police officer?

A section provides a better understanding of the endurance of this sense of impunity and the impression of a police officer who is quick to racial slippage. In 2007, several police officers filed an official complaint against their own department and condemned racism by some of their colleagues. The future police chief, Madaria Arradondo, was among the complainants, while among the accused was the name of a certain Bob Kroll. Far from being affected by this incident, this policeman in 2015 became the powerful chief of the Minneapolis Police Association, which has more than 800 members.

This is the rub for most observers and actors on the ground. “Union leaders have historically more power than police chief“recognized Janeé Harteau, who preceded Madaria Arradondo as police chief. Even Jacob Frey, the mayor of the city, acknowledged that he too often felt helpless to Bob Kroll and his union.

The role of these organizations is regularly pointed out after each violent eventAmerican media headlines. They would undermine the necessary reform work. But in Minneapolis, this notion of a union that would prevent “bad cops” from being exacerbated by Bob Kroll’s outrageous personality.

With a dozen complaints against him on the counter, the sixties man is the archetype of the old school police who is convinced of the benefits of resorting to the strong way. He showed up at a meeting with Donald Trump wearing a “Police with Trump” T-shirt, calling the “Black Lives Matter” movement a “terrorist” organization, and he thought it appropriate to suggest that George Floyd was a “violent criminal” .

In addition to the words, it was above all his actions that complicated the task of those who tried to reform the police. In 2015 he negotiated a police agreement with the municipality which makes it particularly difficult to remove police who are convicted of violence. This is not a unique document of its kind in the United States, but it does show how a trade union can help maintain the status quo, which ultimately reinforces general anger toward the police.

Trade union agreements that contribute to feelings of impunity

For example, the agreement stipulates that details of complaints against officials will be deleted from their actions after six months, unless a sanction has been made. In other words, the police often do not know if they are dealing with a repeat criminal when investigating the case of an officer accused of police violence, points out the New York Times. The accused officers are also entitled to two days of “reflection” between the time they are presented with complaints against them and their initial hearing before the commission responsible for hearing the case. “They have time to work out their version of the facts with the union,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, an American political analyst who specializes in police, interviewed by Reuters. Finally, a sanctioned police officer can challenge the decision before an arbitrator “who is often a union member” and who can set aside the punishment, notes The Intercept.

Bob Kroll not only guaranteed de facto police immunity, he also ensured that a certain “warrior culture” survived all reform efforts. Thus, after the mayor’s decision to ban the controversial formations, the union decided to conduct them themselves and make them free for all. “The idea is to get the police to think that when they go out into the field, they feel they are going to a war zone,” said Joshua Williams, a Minneapolis civil rights lawyer when interviewed. by Reuters.

Anything that explains why Jacob Frey considers renegotiating the terms of the union agreement is a top priority for successfully reforming the police. “Until we get back to this deal, we will be locked in,” he told the Wall Street Journal just days ago.

But for the Minneapolis City Council, there is no time to waste in the negotiations. They believe that the giant protests that began in Minneapolis and then spread throughout the country prove that the police have dug their own grave with offers like the one Bob Kroll negotiated. Now we have to close the coffin … without really knowing what will come next.