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Minneapolis agreed Friday to ban chokeholds and neck restraints by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force, in the first concrete steps to remake the city's police force since George Floyd's death.
The changes are part of a stipulation between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which launched a civil rights investigation this week in response to the death of Floyd. The City Council approved the agreement 12-0.
Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the changes are necessary to stop ongoing harm to people of color “who have suffered generational pain and trauma as a result of systemic and institutional racism.”
“This is just a start," Lucero said. "There is a lot more work to do here, and that work must and will be done with speed and community engagement.”
Floyd's death is prompting reexamination of police techniques elsewhere. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered the states police training program to stop teaching officers how to use a neck hold that blocks the flow of blood to the brain.
The decision on whether to use the hold is up to each law enforcement agency, and Newsom said he will support legislation to outlaw the method. The San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Sheriffs Department are among the agencies that announced this week that they would stop using the hold, known as a carotid hold or sleeper hold.
“We train techniques on strangleholds that put peoples lives at risk,” Newsom said. “That has no place any longer in 21st-century practices and policing.”
The Minneapolis agreement requires court approval and would become enforceable in court, unlike the department's current policies, which already cite the duty of sworn employees to stop or try to stop inappropriate force or force no longer needed. The agreement would also require officers to immediately report to their superiors when they see use of any neck restraint or chokehold.
Floyd died after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the handcuffed black man's neck, ignoring his “I can't breathe” cries and bystander shouts even after Floyd stopped moving. His death has set off protests around the world.
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Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting. All have been fired.
Lucero said the changes go further than the department's current policies. Any officer who doesn't try to stop the improper use of force would face the same discipline as if they had used improper force.
The agreement also would require authorization from the police chief or a deputy chief to use crowd control weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades. Such tactics have been used in Minneapolis and other cities in the past week to disperse protesters.
The stipulation also sets a process for the city and state to negotiate longer-term changes, such as changing state laws that make it difficult to fire problem officers.
Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement that he “will continue to work on efforts to improve public trust, public safety and transformational culture change” of the poliice force.
“I will be bringing forth substantive policy changes,” said Arradondo, whose statement did not provide details.
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