The meeting was called to order by Larry Ranallo at 6:10 PM, 32 people attending.
Our speakers this month were Sgt. Darcy Horn from the Procedural Justice Unit of the MPD, Officer Yolanda Wilks, and Glenn Burt, who is the (Mpls.) project coordinator from the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.
Sgt. Horn handed out four summary sheets that explain the basic tenets of “Procedural Justice” which is the basis of this program.
Procedural Justice is based on four pillars: Fairness, Impartiality in decision-making, Giving citizens a voice, Transparency. Fairness is not only about outcome. Getting a ticket for speeding is a negative outcome, but if the speeder feels she was treated fairly by the officer, she is more likely to feel the encounter was fair, is more likely to comply with the officer’s requests (as to show proof of insurance) and less likely to challenge the ticket. Following the tenets of procedural justice develops positive relationships between police and community in which members of the community have trust in officers and view them as honest, unbiased and lawful. It follows then that members of the community will feel they share common interests and goals with the police and will feel an obligation to follow the law and otherwise cooperate.
Implicit Bias is the automatic connection people make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups. This response can influence your behavior even when you are not explicitly prejudiced. Quoting from the topic sheet”…’Racism without racists’… can cause institutions or individuals to act on racial prejudices, even in spite of good intentions and non-disciminatory policies or standards.” Implicit bias can shape our view of race, gender, age, religion, and other factors. In police interaction, implicit bias is a reason some will look at one person with suspicion but presume another to be innocent. The result is a negative impact on community perception of law enforcement. Study suggests that biases can be unlearned and negative bias can be replaced with neutral or positive mindsets.
Reconciliation is the third aspect of the training program. This looks for frank conversations between authorities and community members to “reset” relationships that are negatively impacted by historical tensions and grievances. Mutual respect and coordination yield working relationships between police and the communities they serve. Mutual misunderstanding and mistrust undermine the safety of both police and citizens. Many people in minority communities believe that the police are using resources like drug laws as tools to oppress them, The history of slavery, the prevalence of police stop-and-frisk and other disrespectful behavior by police further fuel the distrust. On the other side, police and others believe that minority groups tolerate or abet crime and violence. The process of Reconciliation bares these beliefs so that both sides can see how they harm the process of finding a common ground to begin shared work toward a shared goal.
Sgt. Horn explained that traditional Police training focuses on end results, which has led many officers to think that achieving results justified whatever it took to get the job done. Now officers are being trained to give people a voice, to try and maintain neutrality, and to offer respect. Officers must focus on the encounter with a citizen, and not just on the outcome.
In 2017, Procedural Justice offered three days of training for every member of the MPD. The agenda for first day is to cover and explain the above: fairness, impartiality, listening, and transparency and the high importance of the quality of treatment. It’s true that sometimes an officer will find themselves in a situation where they can’t use the procedural justice pillars, but they can use them afterwards to explain how the situation went. The second day is “practice”: the officers are given a selection of scenarios and a chance to respond to them. The third day focuses on implicit bias training, where the focus is on neutrality and understanding what goes on in the human mind when we make decisions, so we can understand how the process goes a little better.
Everyone has biases, and when officers can understand this a little better, we hope they will recognize their own biases and step back to understand a situation before acting.
The MPD Procedural Justice Dept. is now taking this training out to the community. We have trained the Park Board police, and we are offering this training more in depth if groups and organizations will let them know there is interest. [EQ note: Sgt. Horn repeated this offer; she invites organizations to contact her FFI. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Continuing his contribution to the program in Minneapolis, Glenn Burt will work as community outreach team-member for the Minneapolis initiative.
Glenn: Historically we have not done a good job of explaining to communities what we [the police] are doing. The program goal is to make changes in how we think, how we react, This is a top to bottom change about how the police interact with the public. This is about treatment during the process. Most of us recognize, for example, in a restaurant, if the waiter rude, you don’t care about the meal in the end, but you do care about how you felt.
We want officers to understand that the members of the public are our “customers”; we want to create a better relationship with them. This training is a first step toward that goal.
The Dept. of Justice chose Minneapolis for the place to create and test this program. Other cities (Burlington, Stockton, and more) wanted to be the first but Minneapolis got it.
There is a question of if you can change entrenched beliefs. There are ways of moving people from those beliefs. One is to build assessment into reviews. While police departments are paramilitary, that can’t shape the everyday norm of interacting with the community. Officers must learn (if they don’t know) that talking builds trust. They must also know that the police need public help to solve crime. From the top down, officers will hear and repeat this message. It will be easier for the most recent recruits, since they have heard this message from day one.
Question: Who gives officers feedback? Measures are the most common source of feedback: The number of complaints goes down. When someone files a complaint, the most common complaint is treatment. Working with officers, Burt reminds them it doesn’t matter how small an event seems to the officer, it is always an opportunity to make a positive connection that means something to the citizen. Burt uses the concept of a “Community bank”: every positive interaction is a deposit; every negative interaction is a withdrawal. Officers are given pocket cards to hand out so their names won’t be forgotten.
Question: Are police officers limited to by the laws and ordinances on the books. Answer: No. This initiative is to promote relationship building; it’s not limited to law enforcement. We recognize that everyone has good and bad days. The bad days are the ones that give you the most lessons to learn.
[EQ note: at this point, my tape recorder hit a bad patch in the tape, and some of Mr. Burt’s answers to questions were not recorded.]
The most important thing for an officer to learn is the value of building trust. If you trust someone, you are more likely to cooperate with them rather than doubt or work against them.
Think of this as developing a muscle: if you notice someone with good customer service, with that person it’s second nature All to often, policing gives people a sour disposition. We want to get away from that. Eye contact, friendly face, all of that helps people want to trust you. Officers are people who started this career because they wanted to help. Sometimes they lose track of that.
The 3-day program we used this summer is a training exercise. Three days is not going to change people, but it does give them insight into why people respond to them as they do, and gives them skills to practice as they interact with people. We went out to members of diverse segments of our community and asked them what it’s important for our officers to know. This information must be shared, because an officer might be switched from one precinct to another, where the community norms are very different.
STATE OF THE PRECINCT: Inspector Loining presented a summary year-to-date. Overall violent crime is down over 15% compared with 2016. Burglaries, however are different. Burglary of dwelling with no apparent force for entry is down by 27$, but burglary of garage is substantially up with and without force, the highest concentration is from 34th to 37th Avenues NE. Recommended prevention include upgrading your locks and using them, increase exterior lighting and consider motion detectors, trim trees and shrubs so that the garage doors can be seen by you and your neighbors. Always: if you see something, phone it in.