Editorial: Curbing local police brutality

by Daily Editorial Board

On July 15, Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor responded to a 911 call by Justine Damond concerning a potential sexual assault. Soon after, Noor had fatally shot and killed Damond. This shooting was followed by the ongoing investigation of the facts of the case.

However, a mere three days after this development, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges effectively removed the Police Chief Janeé Harteau from her job. Harteau stepping down drew an onslaught of protests as to why previously unjustified killings of African Americans had not led to any leadership changes.

The issue of police brutality has been a predominant issue in our country. Officers have developed a tendency to respond aggressively and decisively with very limited provocation, justifying their actions with the apparent need and urgency to act. The unfortunate reality is that the removal of Harteau does hardly any good to help address that fact.

Harteau’s dismissal is the type of tokenism that has no real impact on the problem.

The reality is that Hodges has limited powers to begin with. In our “weak-mayor” city, the City Council has the sole power to act on the Mayor’s agenda. However, Hodges can still choose to set the tone on how to address these types of issues. Her job is to develop effective budgets, recommend effective legislation and work on a grassroots level with the people of the city to achieve their needs.

Also, as the figure head of government in the city of Minneapolis, where a cloud of questions concerning police brutality after travesties like the shooting of Jamar Clark have occurred, she must take accountability to make a change rather than defer responsibility.

The infrastructural issues concerning the unnecessary use of force in police departments must be met with more creative solutions and stronger requirements for police officers. Many people thought that by adding body cameras, police officers would practice further caution in their response to people, but they would also reveal the truth behind many of these tragic shootings from the officer’s perspective. However, in the case of Damond, the officer simply did not have the camera turned on, which is against departmental policy. This is further compounded by a study by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association where it found about 10 percent of officers are wearing body cameras.

Not only must body cameras be made a requirement in all police departments, they should also incite harsher punishments for not following the rules about them being off in critical moments.

Second, police departments must find more creative ways to promote conflict de-escalation in critical situations. They must also train police officers in the use of nonlethal weapons that do not kill the target, but stun them for apprehension.

There is simply no excuse for these deaths when the technology to reduce undue police violence is available and public. We hope that the Minneapolis Police Department, under the new leadership of Chief Medaria Arrodondo, will afford more robust changes that make a difference.