June 10, 2020 / 3:56 PM / a month ago

Minneapolis police chief breaks off talks with officer union

(Reuters) - The Minneapolis Police Department will withdraw from contract talks with the officer union as it seeks to end relationships that have “eroded trust” in the community and overhaul the force following George Floyd’s death, its chief said on Wednesday.

Chief Medaria Arradondo, at a media briefing, also said he would implement a new early-warning system to identify police officer misconduct, allowing supervisors to intervene more quickly to get problematic officers off the street.

The decision to cut off negotiations with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis comes a few days after a majority of the city council pledged to dismantle the police force, raising pressure on the chief to take action.

“What our city needs now more than ever is a pathway and a plan that provides hope, reassurance and actual measures of reform,” Arradondo said. “This work must be transformational but I must do it right.”

He said he would bring in advisers to conduct a review of how the contract could be restructured for “greater community transparency and more flexibility for true reform,” adding that the main focus was not on wages and benefits.

“This is further examining those significant matters that touch on such things as critical-incident protocol, our use of force, the significant role that supervisors play in this department and also the discipline process.”

The May 25 death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, sparked two weeks of nationwide protests putting a spotlight on minorities killed by police.

Derek Chauvin, the former officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene, including two rookies, were also charged with aiding and abetting in his death.

reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Conn.; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis

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