Leaders: Minneapolis police field training needs better oversight

A new report from the city's audit committee recommends new measures to better train the trainers

Police in uniform raise their right hands.
New police officers raise their hands to take an oath at a Minneapolis Police Academy graduation ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A report released Monday points out flaws in the Minneapolis Police Department’s training practices.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

A report released Monday points out flaws in the Minneapolis Police Department’s training practices, which include a failure to closely track new officers after they graduated from the academy.

The city’s Audit Committee report comes several days after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin had served as a field training officer for Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — both of whom face aiding and abetting charges in Floyd’s killing.

The report also includes recommendations to centralize the evaluation process, to involve more officers in more formalized field training programs, and to provide financial incentives for trainers.

Mayor Jacob Frey said it’s important that the officers responsible for on the job training are well versed in the values he and police chief Medaria Arradondo are trying to instill among members of the force.

“Developing higher standards and offering incentives for those who serve as field training officers while adding accountability measures to the program will move Minneapolis in the right direction,” said Frey.

City council member and Audit Committee chair Linea Palmisano said she hopes the changes will increase accountability and transparency in post-academy training efforts.

“A number of these recommendations are about adding additional transparency and accountability — providing additional clarity to the people that are trainers,” she said. “The more transparent our processes are, the easier they are to track.”

Amelia Huffman is the department's deputy chief of professional standards. She said the department will look around the country for best practices and improvements.

“We want to ensure that all field training officers must be willing and able to teach our recruit officers to competently perform the job as a police officer, working with the communities to make Minneapolis safer and more peaceful, to mentor our recruits to provide professional service to all communities and to model MPD values and ethical conduct at all times,” Huffman said.

Following the murder of George Floyd, The Marshall Project, a nonprofit criminal justice news organization, examined the role field training officers play in maintaining the status quo, not just in Minneapolis but in departments around the country. In the story, attorney Earl Gray said his client, Thomas Lane, was just following the example set by his training officer on May 25, 2020 when he helped hold Floyd face down on Chicago Ave until he died. 

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