DOJ announces center to help cops, offers aid to Minneapolis

Minnesota state troopers block a street leading to the destroyed Police Third Precinct as heavy black smoke rises from a fire a few blocks away, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis after another night of protests, fires and looting. AP photo

The U.S. Department of Justice is putting $3 million toward a national center that will provide training and assistance to help law enforcement agencies prevent the use of excessive force, and officials hope the city of Minneapolis would be the first to take advantage of the resource.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 12:23 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 2:28 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it has put $3 million toward the creation of a national center that will provide training and assistance to help law enforcement agencies prevent the use of excessive force, and officials expressed hope that Minneapolis would be the first city to take advantage of the resource.

The announcement was made in Minneapolis, where the police department has been under pressure to reform since the May 25 death of George Floyd, which touched off mass demonstrations against police brutality around the nation.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Tuesday that he is grateful for the offer and hopes city leaders will take advantage of it. He said the center would provide more resources and training, including mental health resources for officers, at a time when he trying to make changes at the department while facing diminished staff.

“In creating a new MPD, I want to utilize all available tools and resources to support the hardworking and professional men and women of the MPD," Arradondo said. “We have an obligation and duty to be guardians of our communities and enhance our level of service and this program seeks to do just that.”

The program’s announcement two weeks before the election carried echoes of the law and order theme President Donald Trump has hammered at since unrest broke out in several cities around the country after Floyd’s death.

The national response center will be run by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and will be a resource for all state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, said Katharine Sullivan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs.

She said justice officials envision the center would have a coordinator, who is an expert in policing, who will help agencies with training, issues of officer safety, officer recruitment or retention, and other issues.

“The idea is that we are here to meet your needs. Not to descend,” Sullivan said.

Tuesday's announcement was not the result of a larger-scale investigation and consent decree that would bind the Minneapolis Police Department and force major changes within its ranks. Previous consent decrees mandated reforms in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown, and in Baltimore after the police custody death of Freddie Gray.

While the Justice Department could still initiate a “pattern and practice” investigation as part of a civil rights probe, Attorney General William Barr has suggested such investigations may have been previously overused. A federal criminal investigation into whether the four officers violated Floyd's civil rights is still ongoing.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died after f ormer officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked a renewed sense of outrage over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police, and sparked mass demonstrations that have defined the last six months of American life. Chauvin and three others were charged in Floyd's death and are expected to stand trial in state court in March.

Floyd's death prompted calls for overhauling or defunding police departments nationwide. In Minneapolis, a majority of City Council members pledged to dismantle the department, though a city commission ultimately blocked the council’s effort to put the issue before voters this November. Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat who opposed abolishing the department, have continued to make incremental changes to change the agency’s culture, including banning chokeholds and changing the department’s use of force policy.

All of this came as the city saw rising violence this summer, budget cuts due to a loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the departures of dozens of officers. Arradondo said Tuesday that he's down an estimated 130 officers compared with this time last year, and he expects more departures by year's end. A lawyer helping officers file for disability leave has said he's helped process about 175 claims since Floyd's death.

The police department is also being investigated by the state Department of Human Rights, which is looking into the department’s policies and practices over the last decade to see if it engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.

Barr has said he recognizes there is racism in the U.S., and that there’s reason for some communities to be more suspicious of law enforcement than others, but he doesn’t think there is systemic racism.

Instead, he believes it's incumbent upon the government to ensure there are adequate policies to protect against abuse and that officers have proper training. He has said that going too far and pushing to defund or disband police departments, or moving quickly to bring criminal charges against police officers without robust investigations, is likely to lead to a mass exodus of officers.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 557665

Reported Deaths: 7104
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1161051683
Ramsey48076856
Dakota42704422
Anoka38757416
Washington25072274
Stearns21100219
St. Louis16883298
Scott16071117
Wright14862127
Olmsted1278097
Sherburne1068280
Carver986845
Clay784790
Rice7657102
Blue Earth699540
Kandiyohi629581
Crow Wing619886
Chisago551650
Otter Tail545273
Benton533897
Mower451332
Goodhue445572
Douglas444071
Winona439149
Nobles400848
Morrison396359
McLeod396055
Isanti380159
Itasca375553
Beltrami373557
Polk366567
Steele364114
Becker356548
Lyon349048
Carlton330752
Freeborn328529
Pine312721
Nicollet308342
Brown294839
Mille Lacs283850
Le Sueur271322
Todd269230
Cass250826
Meeker238137
Waseca231421
Martin213529
Wabasha19983
Roseau198019
Hubbard172541
Renville172543
Dodge17203
Redwood166535
Houston162514
Cottonwood157521
Fillmore15179
Pennington151219
Chippewa146737
Wadena145021
Faribault144219
Sibley136710
Kanabec132022
Aitkin128936
Watonwan12579
Rock123119
Jackson117610
Yellow Medicine110919
Pipestone110026
Pope10316
Murray10299
Swift100118
Marshall85617
Stevens82310
Lake78419
Clearwater77914
Koochiching77513
Wilkin77112
Lac qui Parle73622
Big Stone5654
Lincoln5602
Grant5518
Norman5229
Mahnomen5088
Unassigned48578
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3605
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 358375

Reported Deaths: 5826
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56091605
Linn20328330
Scott19153235
Black Hawk15566306
Woodbury14917221
Johnson1408481
Dubuque13169203
Dallas1090996
Pottawattamie10769162
Story1032447
Warren556986
Clinton538390
Cerro Gordo523486
Webster508391
Sioux506973
Marshall477274
Muscatine461596
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407870
Plymouth398179
Lee368555
Marion354875
Jones293355
Henry286437
Bremer279460
Carroll279352
Crawford262440
Boone258933
Benton250355
Washington249250
Dickinson242543
Mahaska225250
Jackson218242
Kossuth213163
Clay211325
Tama206771
Delaware203339
Winneshiek194733
Page190421
Buchanan188931
Cedar184623
Fayette183041
Wright180535
Hardin180142
Hamilton178249
Harrison176673
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158820
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154941
Madison154319
Poweshiek152833
Allamakee149151
Iowa145724
Hancock143734
Winnebago136231
Grundy135432
Cass134854
Calhoun133211
Jefferson130935
Emmet128840
Shelby128637
Sac127319
Louisa127249
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125241
Union123232
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie118029
Franklin112921
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10020
Clarke98324
Keokuk94830
Monroe94128
Ida89633
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75716
Lucas74923
Worth7118
Taylor65412
Fremont6149
Decatur5909
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
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