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Minneapolis Police Chief Holds News Conference; Mayor Jane Castor (D), Tampa, FL Discusses Chief Arradondo's Press Conference On Reforming Police. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired June 10, 2020 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: So our communities are absolutely concerned about how those contracts are designed and the impacts that they have on them.
As a chief, as I mentioned earlier, it's important for me to make sure that everyone is adhering to the policies. There's a character about this department that we should be aligning ourselves to. If there are impediments in the way of union contracts, that absolutely makes it difficult.
When I have to go before community members and explain why an employee who I think should not be wearing this badge is working back in their communities, that is problematic for me. That can also erode trust.
So we need to -- I need to, as chief, step away from the table with the Minneapolis Police Federation and take a deep dive in terms of how we can do something that has historically been in the way of progress, that I've been hearing from many in our city. And that is my intention moving forward.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you say, chief, it's that union contract that's preventing you from managing your department, that that contract is standing in the way of you making sure that all of the officers are on the up and up, and we don't have an incident like we had a couple of weeks ago?
ARRADONDO: I think it is very clear that we have to evolve. I think that the traditional process in terms of the union contract are probably antiquated and are not meeting the needs of all vested stakeholders. And as chief, now is the time to step away from that and start anew. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: One other question about what started all of this. And I think, again, this is to clear up what has become a national conversation about that $20 bill.
What can you tell us now about Cup Foods, what Mr. Floyd was doing, and the call that brought your officers to him and then we saw the rest? Is there anything new or anything that you could go over detail- wise from your perspective that would shed more light on that so that people have facts and can start with their personal opinions, which may not be true? ARRADONDO: So I will just say this here. I haven't dealt so much
interest the call specifics with the counterfeit bill and the original reason why our police responded. I do know there was a relationship to a counterfeit bill.
But I want to be very clear. There's nothing -- there's nothing within that call that should have resulted in the outcome that resulted with Mr. Floyd. I want to be very clear. There's nothing in that call that should have resulted in the outcome of Mr. Floyd's death.
But we will be looking at all of these things during after-action reports and what have you. But I appreciate the question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
ARRADONDO: Oh, sure. That's all right.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You have said being silent is complicit.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the short time that I've been back here, I've heard a lot of people who said that the Third Precinct is a bad precinct and a lot of bullies and a lot of bad cops. Chauvin was one of the good ones, someone told us.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So if being silent is being complicit, if you knew there were problems there, why didn't you fix them?
ARRADONDO: So -- that's a good question. So I've only worked the Third Precinct for a couple of months in my 31-year career and so I've been throughout the organization.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But it's not that big a department.
ARRADONDO: Yes. And so culture is one in which it can be very unwielding, but you have to continue to stay on it.
I -- I don't believe that every single officer that wears this uniform would have done things that occurred that evening two weeks ago.
I have to continue to look at the different parts of this organization that could foster negative culture, that could foster negative reactions or relationships with our community, and I will continue to do that.
But I will say more than that. It is imperative for me to make sure that I have leadership within this organization. I can dole out policies to live long day. But that supervisor at night, who is standing before that roll call with those officers, that's who they're going to take their orders from. And I have to make sure there's the leadership that is entrusted to me
as chief but, most importantly, entrusted by the community that they'll be given the right messages each and every day so that we can break away from these subcultures of different things.
And culture is not obviously -- types of subculture not different to the Minneapolis Police Department. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you trust the commander of the Third Precinct?
ARRADONDO: I have no reason not to trust the commander or the inspector of the Third Precinct. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk right now about the body camera release just for the public outcry just to see the entire episode from the body cameras of your officers who were laying Floyd to rest?
ARRADONDO: Right now, in the Minneapolis Police Department, this is being investigated by two separate agencies so we do not have the purview of being able to do that. It would have to be a decision by those two different agencies.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). But right now, you are saying the MPD has control over the body camera footage?
ARRADONDO: That's correct. That's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just on the bigger picture here, can this department be reformed and are you able personally to reform it?
ARRADONDO: Absolutely. And I think that we're going to have to have the community support in this our police department is going to be here. And we have to do better. And until the day that that is not the case, we have to be committed each and every day.
But as I said before, this is going to take time. It is going to take time and it is going to be heavy lifting and it will be hard work.
And I do believe that we have the people and the men and women within this organization who are not going to let Mr. Floyd's death be in vain, who are not going let the actions of a few tarnish what they've worked so hard for and continue to work so hard for. So I do believe in that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What role do you think the department community has to play in holding police accountable for their actions? For example, this press release went out after his death that he had died of a medical issue or what have you.
And had their -- I don't know, your thoughts -- had there not been the video that was posted by a citizen showing it, would we have known about this? Would this have been something that would have gotten on our radar?
ARRADONDO: And that is truly what not only people here in Minneapolis have been questioning and talking about for a long time, but across this country. Are we acting truly in the best interest of our communities absent video? And we should never have to rely upon that.
And so I'm thankful, absolutely that this was captured in the manner that it was. No excuse for the actions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So if you're coming across something that looks not to be right and I have a camera, do I go out as a citizen --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- and record it --
ARRADONDO: Absolutely. Record. Call. Call a friend. Yell out. Call 911. We need a supervisor to the scene. Absolutely. I need to know that. We need to know that. So the community plays a vital role and did two weeks ago. Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you said earlier in the press conference that what you've observed on that videotape was not training you had ever seen. So if that's true, where did the behavior that you did see come from?
ARRADONDO: I've struggled when I watched that video that I did not see humanity. I did not see humanity. And so -- that's the only answer I can give you. I did not see humanity that day.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- rookie officers made the arguments through their attorneys that they were yielding to the experience of Officer Chauvin. Again, where does that fit -- where does that come from?
ARRADONDO: Again -- and I've said this before, that's a good question -- we do not shape our policies based on your years of service. We expect you to be professional. We expect you to have a duty and care for life. And if you come into conflict with policy ore subculture, I expect your humanity to rise above that, and our communities expect that. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, earlier, you described your decision in
detail to let the Third Precinct burn and you describe the events leading up to it that there was already looting and fires happening and that it was a public safety threat for those people inside.
But I guess, to back up even more, how was that situation allowed to get to that point, to get to the point where the looting was happening? In other words, did you let it get too out of control too soon and were you caught flatfooted?
ARRADONDO: It was obvious -- and I believe there's been public statements since then that resources -- this again, this was the number of civil unrest, significant high-risk, events were nothing that we ever experienced in the Minneapolis Police Department and did not have adequate resources.
But I will say, too, that, to me, being on the ground to your point, that did not appear to be organic in terms of just based on emotion and reaction. There were strategic things that appeared to be going on at once in key locations had not experienced that before.
So again, I think it was a combination of things. But it was certainly something that I don't believe there was ever a playbook designed to address major civil unrest, looting, riots, fires, shots fired and overrunning a police department, police precinct.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What type of orders and instructions were officers given because we witnessed what appears to be a lot of looters and rioters having free will to do whatever they wanted in many areas of the city?
ARRADONDO: Yes. During that - certainly, during that evening, we really -- again, because of the coordinated, vents that appeared to be occurring throughout preservation of life became the number-one priority.
You will hear it but, obviously, there were many complaints from the community members that talked about lack of 911 response call. We had to have fire assisted with police personnel so that they could be protected to go in.
At some point in time and at some point, preservation of life and property, it became preservation of life. And it was very sad for me to see Target, AutoZone, houses, and all of these other, but preservation of life became the primary function.
And so, again, these are aren't done with the luxury of time, but preservation of life will always be the priority that we have to focus on at the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, a lot of us local reporters know the kind of work that you've done kind of to repair the message to the black community.
Your answer to the decades of killing our sons, killing our fathers. This community has formed coalitions to kind of protect themselves because of fear now because of watching that video of George Floyd over and over again.
Your message to the black community, how they begin to trust again, how they begin to call on you again to help? What do you say now to the community that looks up to you, a community you are a part of, that is hurting now and dealing with a lot of trauma?
ARRADONDO: Yes. I'm not walking away from them. Many of the conversations that I've been having and will continue to have is with our community elders from the African-American community.
I am leaning on them, those who have experienced trials and tribulations during the '60s when Plymouth Avenue burned during the civil rights movement, and those who were here to fight down barriers so that I could be in the position that I'm in today. There's much that I will continue to learn from them.
We have -- I believe we have the will and the experience to heal from this here. We do.
They also know that organizational reform is a process. This is not a sprint. But we have to do it right. I have to do it right. So those conversations will continue.
But rest assured, again, they're also tired. They're tired of chiefs and politicians standing before them and giving them words, hollow words and rhetoric. They want action. And I've been listening to them and they're demanding action. And it is needed.
And that is my frame and that is my goal and my north star compass as we move forward. This, people are tired. They want action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eric, last one.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you talked about how there was no playbook for what played out when those riots started that night. How would you rate how your department handled those riots?
ARRADONDO: I will go back to preservation of life. Fortunately, I should say, sadly, I should say, there one homicide that occurred during the course of those evenings. There was a gentleman who was shot and killed outside of a pawn shop. And so that's being investigated.
Our officers were not fatally wounded and our community members were not fatally wounded. So as I stand before you today, that -- that is crucial. That is the most important thing for me. But now I have to go backwards and say, how do we -- how do we avoid even that coming to be? We should never have to, ever have to experience that again as the city.
And certainly, Mr. Floyd's death was a catalyst to that. His death cannot be in vein. And so that also will be driving me.
But, again, preservation of life and that was key to me when you look at the events that unfolded that night in real time, is making sure I could do everything I could to save lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- take one more question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief?
ARRADONDO: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where did this energy against the media occur, where did it come from because of the way the media was treated by this police department?
ARRADONDO: The -- sir, just for reference, where did the energy against the media, where did that occur?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where did -- why were the police departments so bad toward the media in this riot?
ARRADONDO: To your question, sir, and I know there have been complaints and there's certainly been video of journalists whether it was rubber bullets and tear gassing. And I, for one, respect the immense importance that our media plays in not only Minneapolis, but our society and our democracy. Our media must be protected. They have to be.
I am so fortunate that all of you are here. This story has to be told. We talked about silence is complicit. All of you are making sure that this story is not silenced.
And so one of the things, sir, that we will be looking at and I will be looking at during this after-action report is, why were media, journalists and representatives fired upon and tear gassed and what have you. That can't happen. That can't happen.
And to our journalists here, my apologies to you and your colleagues who fell under some of that, so -- yes?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief. Thank you very much.
ARRADONDO: Thank you.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So we've been listening to the Minneapolis police Chief Arradondo. And it has been fascinating listening to the man who has been a central figure and a vocal presence throughout the crisis that has engulfed the city of Minneapolis and his police department. The crisis in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Making powerful statements and also making a deck declaration of immediate changes that he will be putting place, as he said, because he's committed to making sure moving forward we will get better.
A lot to discuss here. Joining me right now is the Mayor of Tampa, Florida, Jane Castor, who is a former police chief.
Mayor, thank you very much for sticking around.
You were listening to the police chief along with all of us as we were listening to it live.
As a mayor and former police chief, what is your reaction to what you just heard from Chief Arradondo?
MAYOR JANE CASTOR (D), TAMPA, FL: Well, I think that Chief Arradondo is willing to coming forward indicating that he's listening to the community and he is willing to reform his police department, those individuals that were involved in the murder of George Floyd. He's addressing that.
He's open to having the community come in and take a look at that police department and take a look at the policies and procedures and look at the training and look at the ways they can improve the way that they are policing the city of Minneapolis.
BOLDUAN: One of the things that he said, the immediate changes that he's making, he said that he is immediately withdrawing from negotiating with the police union there. How significant is that?
CASTOR: Well, you know, the relationship between the police department and union representation is different in every city. So I'm not sure where he is at with that.
Here in the city of Tampa, we work very closely with our union to ensure that the thousand-member Tampa Police Department has the best law enforcement officers that we possibly can, and to weed out those few individuals that make their way into the force.
BOLDUAN: He also -- I was fascinated by you don't often hear a police chief speak, and you know this as a former chief, in such personal and emotional terms. But this is a very different moment, that that city is experiencing and, quite frankly, the country is experiencing.
You have seen very big protests in Tampa as well. For a chief to really take this on his shoulders, he says, specifically, and it caught my ear when he said, I must do it, meaning reforms. I must do it right. What is the impact of that?
CASTOR: Well, I can tell you that the stars he's wearing right now are incredibly heavy, and I commend him for taking the responsibility, and also ensuring that they'll move forward in a very transparent way.
And one of the things about law enforcement, a lot of people aren't aware, it's judged as a whole nationwide. In other professions, someone can do something inappropriate, doctor kills a patient, and everyone still holds him in high esteem.
There isn't a police officer who hasn't paid for the actions of that officer in Minneapolis.
It's important that we have federal best practices on a national level, and not just from department to department that they differ. For example, with the carotid restraint. We did away with that in the city of Tampa back in the '90s.
BOLDUAN: And, this gets to those --
BOLDUAN: -- actional measures that he was talking about, that you are talking about. You are also now part of the task force with the U.S. Conference of Mayors for police departments looking at this.
And you're getting at something I've actually -- I'm very interested in and is a conversation that needs to be had, which is, where does the change need to come from. We have nearly 18,000 police departments across the country.
BOLDUAN: Is it on the local level or the federal level as we're seeing Congress discuss this today?
CASTOR: I think the change has to come on the local level. We have to wait to have mayors and police chiefs weigh in before Congress decides the best approach.
But one of the things, too, that in the discussion, I'm on that task force, and in the discussion, I said, we have to communicate nationally we're asking police officers to do too much.
You know, though systemic failures in our nation, in education, in health care, in mental health, you know, the police officers are asked to be the teachers, to be the mental health experts, to be the counselors, and it's just too much.
We can't, you know, take funding away from those other areas and then put those tasks on the police department.
BOLDUAN: And, Mayor, I absolutely hear you on that, and I've heard from activists to politicians to police chiefs themselves across the board. That is something that seems to be in agreement, which is police officers, they shouldn't be responding to mental health calls. They shouldn't be social workers. There should be funding in that.
But I will say as I hear that, reforms in place there would not have saved George Floyd, or Eric Garner, or Michael Brown, because those were not mental health calls. Those were not social worker calls. Doesn't this come down to every individual who carry as badge?
CASTOR: Yes, it does. That goes back to, as the chief alluded to, those programs that the early intervention programs we have in effect here in the city of Tampa, our quality assurance programs, our officer wellness programs. Those types of things.
I always tell people being a police officer you get to see and do things others don't get to see and do, but you have to see and do things that nobody should have to see or do. So we need to pay attention to law enforcement, and to the wellness on the level of officers.
Also, I want to point something out, is that we have a lot of great recommendations for reforming in law enforcement. The 21st Century Task Force on Policing has excellent recommendations. But that's just a portion of the equation. It's in the implementation of those recommendations that we will find success in law enforcement. And that hearkens back to having the standards on a national level.
BOLDUAN: And on who really needs to take the lead.
Mayor, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sticking around. I really appreciate it. And getting your perspective, a very unique perspective, and it's very much appreciated. Mayor of Tampa, Florida, Jane Castor.
CASTOR: Thank you. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
Coming up for us, George Floyd's brother on Capitol Hill today testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. A very powerful statement he is making.
Be right back.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Top of the hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks for sticking with us, everybody.
The push for police reform front and center today in a whole new way. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are hearing from George Floyd's brother on a part of a hearing on police procedure and law enforcement accountability.