Minneapolis police officers will no longer be permitted to participate in “warrior-style” training, even off duty.
Mayor Jacob Frey announced he will ban this popular training style as he presented his State of the City address Thursday, a speech that also introduced a new local fund to combat climate change and emphasized investing in minority-owned businesses, creating more affordable housing and aiding the effort to legalize marijuana in Minnesota.
To a roomful of applauding city leaders at Bio-Techne, a lab in northeast Minneapolis, Frey said he believes Minneapolis will be the first city in the country to eliminate “fear-based training” and said the new policy will take effect immediately.
The warrior style of policing teaches officers to adopt a mind-set that threats are ever present in their daily work. This school of training came under scrutiny in the Twin Cities after revelations that Jeronimo Yanez — the former St. Anthony officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a routine traffic stop in 2016 — had taken a “Bulletproof Warrior” seminar. Nationally, police accountability advocates say the training breeds paranoia that increases the likelihood of officers using unnecessary force.
“Chief Medaria Arradondo’s police department rests on trust, accountability and professional service,” Frey said. “Whereas fear-based, warrior-style trainings like killology are in direct conflict with everything that our chief and I stand for in our police department. Fear-based trainings violate the values at the very heart of community policing. When you’re conditioned to believe that every person encountered poses a threat to your existence, you simply cannot be expected to build out meaningful relationships with those same people.”
Arradondo said the department doesn’t train officers in these techniques, and starting now, those who attend such classes outside of work could be disciplined. Arradondo didn’t know how many Minneapolis officers had already gone through warrior-style training.
Naming police accountability a top priority in his first year, Frey also imposed stricter penalties last April for officers not turning on their body cameras. This new policy has been a success, he said Thursday. Officers were complying with the policy 93% of the time in the first quarter of 2019, up from 55% a year ago.
“Yes, that’s progress,” said Frey.
Frey emphasized the importance of police mental health, and he touted new wellness training for police.
He also made a subtle plea to City Council members to devote more money to investigate sexual assaults.
“Right now, with over 700 instances of rape reported annually and just eight investigators tasked with working those cases, on top of their other duties, that ability is very much limited,” said Frey. “We can’t maintain the status quo and expect better results.”
In his address, Frey also announced the establishment of the Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund, which will invest in local projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will be funded privately through a partnership between the city, the Minneapolis Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.
Frey invited people to apply for the funding on the Minneapolis Foundation’s website, saying priority will be given to projects in communities in the cross-section of pollution and poverty.
“The president and his Cabinet have made it clear that climate change — if they’ll even admit it exists — is not their priority,” Frey said. “At the local level, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring science.”
Separately, Frey said the city is looking to pilot three to four new bus-only lanes to speed up commutes.
Frey elicited applause in introducing a new partnership between the city, Square Inc. and Village Financial Cooperative.
With a $500,000 investment from the city, Village Financial plans to open this year. It will be the only African-American-led credit union in Minnesota.
Square, the San Francisco-based financial services company, will donate hardware to Village Financial and help provide training on money management and tools for entrepreneurs looking to build their business, according to a news release from Village Financial.
“Our partnership will be guided by the core principle that financial institutions should help meet the needs of consumers in all segments of their communities, starting with those of the black community, and including indigenous people, immigrants and other people of color,” said Frey.
Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036