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Minneapolis Mayor Not In Favor Of Abolishing Police Department; Trump Delivers Commencement Address At West Point; Trump Delays Tulsa Rally After Criticism Over Juneteenth; Dr. Karyn Baum Discusses Spike In Coronavirus Cases In Multiple States; Brazil's Low-Income Areas Hit Hard By Coronavirus; How Camden, NJ, Disbanded Its Police Force and Lowered Crime. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 13, 2020 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Frederick Whitfield. Amid racial tensions and coronavirus fears, President Trump delivers the commencement address to West Point graduates. More than 1000 now graduates gathered today at the U.S. Military College for ceremony unlike any before due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Each graduate wore a mask and socially distanced.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to take this opportunity to thank all members of America's armed forces in every branch, active duty National Guard and Reserve who stepped forward to help battle the invisible enemy the new virus that came to our shores from a distant land called China. We will vanquish the virus, we will extinguish this plague.


WHITFIELD: This ceremony happening as the President makes an about face on his upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He now says he will push back the event by one day. This after criticism, the campaign rally was to take place on June 19th or Juneteenth. That's the date. Many African-Americans were finally notified that the civil war had ended and they had been freed from slavery.

That rally comes as the President's top health officials warned the coronavirus pandemic is not over. With 19 states reporting a rise in cases. The CDC advising the use of masks and avoiding close contact with others in public. More protests meantime are also expected today as marchers continue to hit the streets for a 19th consecutive day to protest racial in justices and police brutality in response to the death of George Floyd.

City leaders have taken another step toward establishing an entirely new policing system in Minneapolis. All 12 city council members voting to begin a year long process aimed at creating a transformative new model for public safety in the wake of George Floyd's death. CNN's Lucy Kafanov joins me now from Minneapolis. Lucy, what are you learning?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, it's no surprise that the strongest push to abolish or reform or disband the pool in Minneapolis where these nationwide calls really began due to the tragic killing of George Floyd. As you mentioned, all 12 members are pushing for this. They argued that decades of attempts to reform the police have effectively failed and it's time -- it's time to try a different way.

Take a listen to what one council member had to say.


ALONDRA CANO, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, MINNEAPOLIS: We acknowledge that the current system is not reformable that we would like to end the current policing system as we know it. And then we would like to create a completely new transformative model of public safety that centers a lot of things, healing, restorative justice, relationships, the respect and dignity that so many of our community members want and deserve.


KAFANOV: Now, I should emphasize this is just the first step in what's going to be a very long process on Friday, the City Council decided, voted essentially to spend the next year liaising with the local community to try to get ideas on how people would want this alternative to the police department to look like. So it's going to take time to see any kind of meaningful change. It's also we're not seeing all officials on the same page here, the mayor wanting reform, but from a different standpoint, take a listen to what he had to say this week.


JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: If we're talking about massive cultural shift in the way our police department does business, I'm on board. If we're talking about major structural reform, that pushes back on the horrid nature of how our police departments have treated black and brown communities. I am fully on board.


FREY: But if we're talking about abolishing the entire police department, I was honest, that's not where I am.


KAFANOV: One thing that the governor the City Council, the police chief and the mayor all agree on, Fred, as reform of some sort is needed. So we'll be watching closely over the next weeks and months to see what actual measures are implemented here in Minneapolis in the wake of that tragic killing, Fred?

WHITFIELD: Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much in Minneapolis. All right. Records show that Minneapolis police are rarely disciplined when complaints are filed against them. Derek Chauvin is a prime example. The pirate officer who pinned George Floyd to the ground with a knee to Floyd's neck had 18 prior complaints filed against him and just two reprimands. CNN Investigative Reporter Drew Griffin has been looking into the numbers.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: In the midst of this video that horrified a nation, a bystander called out a badge number.


MICHELLE GROSS, PRESIDENT, COMMUNITIES UNITED AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY: I played it over and over and listened carefully and figured out for sure this was Badge 1087. And at that point then I knew that it was Derek Chauvin.

GRIFFIN: George Floyd had been dead less than 12 hours. Michelle Gross, who heads a Minneapolis group called Communities United Against Police Brutality, was about to tell the world who killed him.

GROSS: And so, when I saw the name, I said, oh, him. I wasn't surprised because when you start to see those same officers over and over again with multiple complaints, their names lodge in your brain.

GRIFFIN: For two decades her organization has been tracking complaints against Minneapolis police. The data is limited. The investigative details not public. But the outcomes are clear.

Scroll down data from the city's own Web site and you will see complaint after complaint closed with no discipline. Minneapolis police have racked up 2,013 complaints in seven years. Of those, just 31 ended in serious discipline. Just 1.5 percent.

GROSS: We have so failed to address police conduct in this community. It made it literally inevitable that somebody was going to die this way.

GRIFFIN: Derek Chauvin, whose knee was on George Floyd's neck, has at least 18 complaints, just two have ever led to discipline. His partner that night Tou Thao has six. One still pending, five dismissed with no discipline. In 2017, Thao and his partner were sued for using unreasonable force by a man who was punched and kicked so hard his teeth broke though he had not committed a crime.

The city and officers denied any wrongdoing, settled for $25,000. Thao remained a cop. Minneapolis police have a long history of allegations of excessive force, lawsuits and even intervention from the Federal Department of Justice. Police chiefs, city councils, mayors come and go without fixing the problems that have built for decades.

R.T. RYBAK, FORMER MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: If I had an easy answer about why we haven't gotten more done with police before in Minneapolis, we wouldn't be in this mess today. GRIFFIN: R.T. Rybak was mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2014. He changed the police chief three times. He says he fought for more transparency and complaints, fought to bring in minority officers and better training to handle the mentally ill.

But when we see over and over again the data, the complaints filed went nowhere and continued to go nowhere -- I really have to question whether or not there was a sincere attempt to restructure the Minneapolis police department.

RYBAK: It's the right question. Someone like me should stand before you and have to answer that because I don't want to leave the impression that I didn't try. But I did not get the job done. And now is the time to get the job done.

GRIFFIN: Phillip Atiba Goff is the co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity.

PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CO-FOUNDER, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: If we think the problem here is wow policing is going to be bad in the United States, we missed the point.

GRIFFIN: What is the point? Goff says it's entire swaths of communities lacking grocery stores, lacking jobs, lacking good education. And he says let's begin using data for far more than law enforcement.

GOFF: So, I'm talking about measuring everything that we need to, to ensure those communities can be healthy, safe and empowered to determine their own outcome.

Police are the spark but the historic disinvestment of black communities, which is why they only have police to solve their problems, that's really the powder keg.

GRIFFIN: A powder keg that erupted with the protests but had building for decades.

The City of Minneapolis tells us that most of the complaints against its officers are low-level and in fact in 300 cases, officers received coaching instead of actual discipline. But how coaching is applied is unclear and it's certainly not transparent.

A former police chief of Minneapolis told us, if one of her officers was coached for bad behavior even repeatedly, she wouldn't even know it.

Drew Griffin, CNN Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: The death of George Floyd and the unrest follow his spark nationwide calls for reform globally.

[13:10:03] WHITFIELD: As a matter of fact, let's bring in Valerie Jarrett, a former senior advisor to former President Barack Obama who served as the Obama administration's point person on criminal justice reform and police reform efforts. And of course, she wears a lot of hats. She's the author of finding my voice. When the perfect plan crumbles, the adventure begins. Valerie, so good to see you.


WHITFIELD: It has been a while.

JARRETT: Remember?

WHITFIELD: That is indeed correct. I remember. How could I forget? So now let's talk about, you know, all that has transpired a lot. What do you make of, you know, these calls around the nation to defund police departments in order to create the changes people are calling for?

JARRETT: What I think would be healthy is that if every city mayor, the City Council and the community residents would sit down and review exactly how are we setting our priorities and are they consistent with the need and our values. Just a couple of weeks ago, President Obama called on, all of the mayors to look at use of force with the community and determine what is appropriate. I think we should be investing more in police in certain ways.

So for example, recruitment, I think we need a national database so that we can do background checks on all folks who want to apply for jobs in law enforcement. I think we need to spend more money on training, both in terms of teaching deescalation strategies, as well as looking at implicit biases. Police are a microcosm of society. The difference is that they've sworn to uphold and protect us. And also, we give them a badge and a gun.

And so that should be a high standard to make sure that any of those biases that they have, are recognized and that we train around them. We also have to look at our police doing things that really should be done by others. Should we spend more money on social services better public education, economic development, we call police and expect them to be on the frontlines when they don't have the skill set, nor is it in their scope of what they should be doing to solve all kinds of societal problems we have.

So I think a healthy look at how we are policing and then they try to root out systemic change. But we don't really don't have right now as a partner at the federal level, to when we were in, in office, President Obama and his attorneys general would go out and look to see if there are patterns in practice of discriminatory behavior. And if there were then we would take those cities to court and have a court order oversee how the changes were implemented.

WHITFIELD: You mentioned on that whole, you know, training on implicit biases in particular. Do you feel like more attention should be made on that because many biases happen well before they become, you know, an officer one in uniform and if you've got all these other tools at your, you know, reach if you don't get past or address the biases, you may miss use those tools. So isn't it Enough being done particularly in that area?

JARRETT: No, not nearly enough is being done. The resources haven't been made available for something which is really at its core. And it's not just police departments who are companies should be looking at what kind of ways are they not just saying we celebrate and encourage diversity, but we create a culture that is inclusive. And so, look, there are two issues here. One is systemic racism. And then the question is, what do you do about it?

And we need both government and the private sector to put in place with transparency and consultation with stakeholders, clear practices that are designed to say we don't stand for discrimination. And if you do, do so, if you do something that clearly shows that you are practicing these discriminatory behaviors, that there will be consequences and I think what you brought out earlier in the piece about, you know, charge after charge after charge being brought against officers and then there is no remedy sends a message to the culture that this kind of behavior really is a wink and a nod and that has to (INAUDIBLE)

WHITFIELD: As I mentioned, Valerie, at the top, you know, you wear a lot of hats, you know, including, you know, senior adviser to the Obama Foundation, in the White House, you were his senior advisor. So how are these roles similar, or perhaps even very different?

JARRETT: Well, the Obama Foundation is really about being a platform to teach the next generation how to civically engaged. And I've been just so impressed with the young people that he held out just in the end of last week, these amazing folks that are in the community on the frontlines out there advocating for change, studying the best practices for how we implement change.

And so that's what the foundation is really devoted to doing building that next generation of leaders. When we were in the White House. Obviously, we were responsible for setting policy for selecting those in law enforcement, our attorneys general to go out and make sure that all those who are receiving federal funds were complying with these high standards that we've been setting.

President Obama also created a task force on 21st Century policing where we looked at what are those strategies.


JARRETT: And we had everybody from demonstrators from Ferguson like Brittany Packnett to folks who were in law enforcement, faith leaders, experts, scholars in this area, improving the relationship between police and communities of color. And really those recommendations provide a roadmap today, the leadership conference, Umbrella Civil Rights Organization has been continuing that important work.

And there are so many cities that are making good faith efforts. And I think that what gives me heart and optimism right now is these demonstrations all across our country in all 50 states, where people of all races and ages and backgrounds are coming together saying this is a time for change. And having grown up in the civil rights era in the 60s, you did not see this level of effort across the board, across our country.

And I think media 24/7 has a lot to do with it watching somebody die in slow motion, George Floyd's death just touched the hearts of so many. And the pressure that we're able to put on because of this new media environment and social media and people taking to the streets.

WHITFIELD: So here we are now five months away now from presidential election. And, you know, one has to wonder if criminal justice reform will be a problem for Vice President. Now candidate, you know, Joe Biden, and you talked about the efforts underway during the Obama administration if Biden were to win, do you see a resumption of the efforts of police reform? Justice reform, as was carried out during the Obama administration, you see a resumption if it were a Biden administration?

JARRETT: Absolutely. And those who have heard him speak within the last week when he was in Houston Monday first meeting with George Floyd's family and then speaking by video with this -- at the service the next day, he made it very clear that this is a top priority for him. And he speaks about it in very personal, authentic ways. And certainly, throughout the Obama administration, his wise counsel helps guide a lot of our efforts.

And so, he's has had experience under his belt. He knows this issue well. He has a good relationship with law enforcement. So I think his voice is uniquely important now, but far more importantly, once he's elected president, this will definitely be a priority.

WHITFIELD: Valerie Jarrett, always good to see you. Thank you so much. You're welcome back anytime, and congratulations on the now paperback or reprint of your book. Many congrats.

JARRETT: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right. Stay safe.

WHITFIELD: Thank you, you as well be well. President Trump delivers the commencement speech at West Point's graduation in an atmosphere of precise social distancing. Did he -- did his address rather strike a chord on current issues, racial unrest, coronavirus pandemic? We'll take you there live.


WHITFIELD: Like presidents before him President Trump deliver the commencement to this year's graduates of the West Point Military Academy but a few other striking differences. Take a look. Each Second Lieutenant is celebrating their graduation at six feet apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, the President's speech coming at a time when the nation is undergoing racial unrest, a pandemic and tensions between the White House and the U.S. military. CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond attended today's ceremonies and joining us now from West Point. So Jeremy, the President spoke for almost 30 minutes today. How did he keep it relevant and current?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a fairly state address from the President. You know, he really did stick to the remarks that were in the teleprompter for him. We did hear the President, though acknowledge, at least in passing this notion of turbulent times that this country is currently going through. We heard the President thank the National Guard in particular, both for its role in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

But also in terms of its role, as he has seen it in terms of the unrest that we have seen in several cities in America and the deploy -- the deployment of some of those National Guardsmen. It was interesting, though, as we heard the President talk about the turbulent times for him to fall back on the notion of the importance of institutions in this moment, particularly because what we have seen from the president in recent weeks is what many of you is him politicizing the military.

The President has come under withering criticism both from some current military officials as well as those past military and defense officials like the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, who criticized the President's for deploying National Guardsmen to handle the unrest in Lafayette Park just over a week ago. The President though insisting that institutions will stand the test of time. So a very interesting message from the President there particularly in the face of some of the criticism that he has faced.

We did not, however, hear the President address in a more comprehensive manner than we have in the past. This national reckoning on racism that this country is currently facing. The president so far has really avoided delving too deeply into that issue. And that certainly was not what his focus was on today during his remarks at West Point. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. Brazilians in desperate need, amid the coronavirus pandemic are getting help from an unlikely source. Drug lords that run Rio's slums are stepping in and even imposing new rules for residents there. We take you inside this new world order, next.



WHITFIELD: Coronavirus cases are spiking in multiple states causing enough concern that some governors are delaying the next phase of reopening. On Friday, the U.S. reported more than 25,000 new cases as the number of confirmed cases worldwide is now more than 7-1/2 million. And there are still concerns that three weeks of protests across the U.S. and globally for that matter could spark new cases as demonstrators crowd together.


Dr. Karyn Baum is an internal medicine physician and hospitalist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

Good to see you, Doctor.

So let's start with these protests. Your hospital dealt with patients injured in the demonstrations and you have concerns about the spike in coronavirus cases. How do you brace for that?


I'm actually part of a large system here. It's a 13-hospital system in the state of Minnesota.

So multiple states -- sorry, multiple hospitals actually saw patients. To some extent preparing for coronavirus helped us be prepared for these events as well to make sure that we had the processes in place to see patients as they arrived, whether by ambulance or walking up to our emergency departments.

WHITFIELD: What are some of the things you put in place to treat the injuries?

BAUM: For example, we had actually an extra emergency room in one of our hospitals that we repurposed from being a COVID specific emergency department to becoming an emergency department specific for patients arriving to be treated for injuries.

WHITFIELD: So your hospital also had some success in treating coronavirus patients, getting a mortality rate that was below the national average. How did you do that?

BAUM: I think one of the more unique things that our health still actually did was take one of our hospitals and turn it into an entire hospital specifically for taking care of patients with COVID. And they did it very rapidly, which is an amazing testament to the teamwork that has occurred throughout our system.

So most of the patients we have seen with COVID in our health system are actually cared for at that hospital. And by doing that, you end up with a team of experts as much as you can have experts in a disease that's only months old.

WHITFIELD: Well, now as a result of the demonstrations, meaning folks weren't always respecting social distancing, not everyone was wearing a mask, people were in close confines. Are you concerned or preparing for a possible deluge of COVID cases?

BAUM: So I think any time a large group of people gather for any reason, there's the concern that there could be an uptick in cases.

Thus far, in Minnesota, we have been relatively lucky in the sense that our number of hospitalized patients with COVID across the state have been ticking down over the last 10 days or so. But we are absolutely ready. And part of the work that everybody in the state did by staying home and social distancing gave the health systems here the time to prepare for this.

WHITFIELD: All right, Dr. Baum, thank you so much. All the best. Be well.

BAUM: Thanks for having me, Fred.

WHITFIELD: This just in. Ten Iowa state student athletes have tested positive for coronavirus, including two football players. The university says none participated in team activities at the time they were exposed to the virus. The Athletic Department is now taking precautions and has protocols for contact tracing as well as isolation to limit the spread of the virus.

Latin America is the new epicenter for coronavirus. One of the countries hardest hit is Brazil, particularly, those living on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joining me now.

Nick, I understand that some parts of Brazil are controlled by drug cartels. And what does that mean in the midst of the global pandemic?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: They have to fend for themselves. You're right, some parts of some city slums almost are places where the state authorities don't really go. The police often go there when they are actually on armed raids, often confronting these same drug dealers.

And that's caused a lot of these communities to have to turn to these same criminals for help. The criminals themselves have to look after the people around them to perhaps keep that community going where they live themselves.

So we saw ourselves exactly what that means in the time of a pandemic when the Brazilian government is so reluctant on a federal level, it's fair to say, the president, Jair Bolsonaro, to really tackle the crisis head on. Here's what we saw.


PATON WALSH (voice-over): Out on the edges, on the unluckier hills around town, you only really see the state when police raid to hunt gangsters, not when ambulances come for the sick.


This slum is run by drug cartels, a no-go zone for police. Here, the virus means that dealers have had to impose new rules to survive. A curfew, in theory, distancing, if possible and, even food handouts for those hit hardest by not working in the lockdown.


PATON WALSH: This is something they want us to see but there's no faking the gratitude.

The virus killed this street vendor's father-in-law and put her uncle in hospital.

"They took my father-in-law, went to the hospital, he was stable," she says, "and then, inside, he died in less than a day. It took two weeks to bury him. This help is huge."

It is strange to see signs of normal again up here, where even the gunmen cannot get everyone to take their new rules seriously.

These young dealers feel invincible against the violence and continuing police crackdown by President Jair Bolsonaro's police but not when it comes to the virus. That's the law of nature.

"We fear the virus, not Bolsonaro," he says. "The isolation was going well here. But now, even the president himself, in his own words, is disregarding it. But we can't ease it. We've seen a lot of death."

(on camera): Donald Trump is sending two million pills of Hydroxychloroquine to Brazil. Will you take any?

(voice-over): "I don't think Hydroxychloroquine helps," he says. "It's B.S. Everything that comes to Brazil from abroad has already been contaminated."


PATON WALSH: Many tell us they have already done more than the state.

Maya (ph) has turned to mask making, which means she can stay at her window. She says the dealers give her a little more for them than everyone else.

Daniel's friend had diabetes and died suddenly at home.

"The virus is in control here," he says. "Even the dealers are afraid. They're imposing some rules, like bars and restaurants can't have tables and chairs."

It is part of living here that police could return at any time. This rock is meant to block their vehicles. Their last raid nearby left at least seven people dead.


PATON WALSH: Now that is one part of Brazil's ongoing problem with coronavirus, communities that, really, it seems, have to fend for themselves. Rio's state level is doing all it can, but its health care system isn't that well-funded.

And the numbers across Brazil are awful, 828,000 confirmed cases here. But that is just simply the number of people who have had a positive test. Often we hear doctors saying you can't get a test unless you have three coronavirus symptoms.

Brazil, sadly, in the last few days overtaking the United Kingdom as now the country with the second-most number of deaths.

But that isn't the entire picture with over 41,000 there in Brazil. The big issue, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, he's never really saw the virus as a threat. He called it little flu. His government tried to put the daily tally, not the cumulative toll for cases and deaths on Web sites recently. That was overturned. Now they're trying to make the numbers more accurate.

But Brazil is moving into the peak here, already hit by the peak in certain key cities, and the numbers are just awful.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Extraordinary reporting.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that that.

President Trump changes course with an upcoming rally in Oklahoma. He came under fire for planning a campaign rally on the same day African- Americans commemorate the end of slavery. Still to come, when the rally will take place now.



WHITFIELD: President Donald J. Trump making a rare reversal and now delaying his next campaign rally. He says it was out of respect for the Juneteenth holiday, or June 19th. That's the date slaves in Texas finally learned of their freedom, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

CNN's Abby Phillip is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where that rally will still take place one week from today.

Abby, this is unusual for this president to back down from pressure. Why now?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Particularly unusual considering that both he and his aides had spent days explaining that they intended to have this rally on Juneteenth and that they were going to use it as an opportunity for President Trump to talk about all that he has done for the African-American community.

But there was backlash. And it was coming not just from here in Tulsa but all over the country as black leaders said that holding his rally on that day would be disrespectful to African-Americans.

Especially considering the history of Tulsa. This is the 99th anniversary of the 1921 massacre that occurred in what they call Black Wall Street, not far from where I am right now. And that event was such a devastating event for black people in this town.

Very few people actually even know much about it. But, increasingly, I think residents here in Tulsa want the world to remember that that moment happened. They are also particularly upset because this is a time when there

have been some recent incidents between black residents and police here in Tulsa that have reignited some of these tensions playing out all over the country.

And President Trump has been pushing a law-and-order message. He's been very dismissive of the idea that systematic racism is a problem in policing. So all of these factors came together.

President Trump says he spoke to friends and allies who said he ought to change the date out of respect for the holiday. But this is clearly the president making a decision to back down on this issue and perhaps bring the temperature down on tensions.


There were plans and there are still plans for residents here to hold a counter rally on Friday, on Juneteenth, to protest the president coming here to Tulsa.

WHITFIELD: And then, Abby, there remain concerns about having this in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. And what is the Trump administration saying, and what kind of precautions, if you call it that, are they taking?

PHILLIP: It's not clear that they are taking any precautions. The message from the Trump campaign appears to be rally at your own risk.

They have asked people who sign up to come to this rally to sign off on a waiver that essentially says they cannot sue President Trump or the campaign if they contract coronavirus by attending.

So far, sources have told CNN's Kristen Holmes there are no plans to enforce social distancing at this rally. Here in Oklahoma, where we've been for about a day now, just around town, you see many, many people not wearing masks.

So it seems to be -- it seems likely that, on Saturday, when this rally is held, in the arena here, that about 20,000 people could be in that arena packed pretty tightly together. No social distancing and also no masks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is on the Coronavirus Task Force, made it pretty clear these large gatherings, of any kind, especially indoors, are a big risk.

So far, we're not hearing much from the Trump campaign about what they'll do about that.

WHITFIELD: Abby Phillip in Tulsa, thank you.

Camden, New Jersey, dissolved its police department and replaced it after corruption rendered the agency unfixable. Now seven years later, a major shift has happened in that city. Could this be the model for other problem police departments?



WHITFIELD: Amid some calls to defund or just completely disband police departments across the country, one town is laying out the blueprint.

The Camden, New Jersey, Police Department was disbanded in 2012 because of rampant corruption and then it was entirely replaced. Police and residents say things have changed. So can it work in other cities?

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did you disband the Camden Police Department?

SCOTT THOMSON, RETIRED POLICE CHIEF, CAMDEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: Yes. And so in at the end of 2012. In the early 2013, every member of the Camden City Police Department was fired, including myself. And a new police force called the Camden County Police Force was created and it was staffed.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Scott Thomson is the recently retired police chief. The disbanded city police force met no more police union and the ability to make new work directives. The union is now back, but the work directives and new traditions remain innovative like this.


TUCHMAN: Serving barbecue or ice cream is a regular feature of the community oriented policing that is done here in Camden.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Fair am I, can you high five me?

TUCHMAN: For the nearly 400 cops in the city of roughly 77,000, are expected to walk the streets and personally get to know those they are policing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's our future recruit right there.

TUCHMAN: Crime is still a problem here, but violent crime is way down since a high point in 2012 when the City Police Department was disbanded. Homicides down by about 63 percent as of last year. And the Department says excessive force complaints against police are down 95%. All amid this directive.

THOMSON: You will use force as an absolute last resort and you will deescalate. There must be an attempt to deescalate a situation prior to using force.

TUCHMAN: This video from a few years back shows an example of that policy. A man flailing a knife inside a store. He continued doing so outside.


TUCHMAN: It's a dangerous situation.


TUCHMAN: But police stayed calm and let it play out on the downtown streets. It looks like a bizarre parade.

THOMSON: They envelop the individual and they walk five city blocks without using deadly force.

TUCHMAN: The suspect was safely apprehended.

(on-camera): There's another very notable principle to abide by if you're a Camden County police officer. And that is you're mandated to notify a supervisor if a fellow cop violates any of these directives.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: We have to intervene, that officers do something wrong at that moment, it is your job, because if not yours wrong as an officer, that's good.

TUCHMAN: So one of these two guys, I know you guys wouldn't do this, but heard someone and they were being peaceful. He would report them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would, I would probably take the badge right off his chest at that moment because it says service to yourself. And he's not carrying (INAUDIBLE) through that.

TUCHMAN: And you do the same thing to him?

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Yes sir, absolutely sir. I expect nothing less.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): This reimagine police force gets a lot of attention here.

(on-camera): You've heard what's going on in the country right now with cops?


TUCHMAN: Do you think you're cops here in Camden are different?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are very different. They treat us nice, light. And they're very cool with us.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There is criticism, though, that the Camden County police force doesn't have enough minority officers, isn't transparent enough, and may not be responsible for the crime drop.

Kevin Barfield is the President of the local NAACP.

KEVIN BARFIELD, PRESIDENT, CAMDEN COUNTY NAACP: The crime statistics have been going down throughout the state of New Jersey and has been going down within the nation. So I would not credit that with the policing programs that have or supposed to be taking place right now.

TUCHMAN: The former police chief says the department can improve while keeping its principles.


THOMSON: I think that most of the police officers here, get it. Every once in a while, we get one that doesn't. And we move swiftly and with certainty to remove them from the force.


TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Camden, New Jersey.


WHITFIELD: The conversation on race continues tomorrow tonight right here on CNN. Join Laura Coates with four of the nation's top mayors, Washington's Muriel Bowser, Atlanta's Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago's Lori Lightfoot, and San Francisco's London Breed. "MAYORS WHO MATTER," tomorrow night at 9:00.

We'll be right back.