Brooklyn Center, MN – A new Brooklyn Center policy unveiled by Mayor Mike Elliot on Tuesday blocks police from arresting nearly all misdemeanor offenders.
“Many people of color — particularly black men — carry trauma from an experience, or many, when being pulled over by the police,” Brooklyn Center City Council Member Marquita Butler told the Star Tribune. “This policy is important and needed to ensure we don’t have any more deaths as a result of minor traffic infractions.”
Under the new “Citation and Release Policy,” police will only be permitted to arrest suspects who have allegedly committed a felony, when required by law to make the arrest, or if police determine the suspect poses a threat to property, the public, or themselves, the Star Tribune reported.
Officers must document all efforts to de-escalate situations and will also be required to seek out and document alternatives to arrests.
Those accused of committing misdemeanor or gross misdemeanors should generally be issued citations and kicked loose under the policy.
Brooklyn Center City Attorney Troy Gilchrist said the change is intended to force officers to come up with alternatives to arresting people, the Star Tribune reported.
“Today we are taking another step forward in our collective work to reimagining public safety in Brooklyn Center,” Elliott said. “This step moves us closer to ensuring there is more equity in how we conduct public safety.”
The policy went into immediate effect on Tuesday.
The city is considering other police reform measures, including potentially using a team of unarmed civilians to handle traffic violations, the Star Tribune reported.
Brooklyn Center is also working to establish a citizens’ committee to come up with recommendations for future police reform measures.
The Community Safety and Violence Prevention Implementation Committee will include people who have been detained by Brooklyn Center police in the past so they can provide input regarding how the city’s police force should do their jobs, according to the Star Tribune.
Elliot said he hopes the committee will be functioning in the next couple of months so the city can implement even more sweeping police reform measures in early 2022, the Star Tribune reported.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department (BCPD) has lost 14 percent of its officers since the beginning of the year, according to the paper.
Although Elliot claimed the BCPD helped create the policy, Interim Police Chief Tony Gruenig told his troops in an email Tuesday morning that police involvement was very limited, CCX News reported.
“We did not play an active, equal role in crafting this,” Chief Gruenig wrote, according to the news outlet.
The chief noted that BCPD officers already meet most – if not all – of the requirements listed in the new policy, so he does not believe it will alter day-to-day operations all that much, CCX News reported.