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2 town police unions decry Minn. death, tout advances

Two Arlington police unions have condemned the actions of Minneapolis police officers resulting in the May 25 death of George Floyd and have provided the community with information about progressive reforms instituted in the past 10 years.

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The June 12 statement, from the Arlington Police Patrolmen's Association and Arlington Ranking Officers' Association, was issued a day after Chief Juliann Flaherty announced a change to the department's use-of-force policy.

"We recognize how devastating and disturbing it is to watch someone die at the hands of police, especially in the plainly indefensible way that George Floyd died," said Officer Brandon Wenz, president of the patrolmen's union. "As fellow officers who took a sacred oath to protect and serve the public, we are also outraged at the senseless actions of the Minneapolis Police officers. No officer who honors their oath and recognizes the great responsibilities we have as police officers would act in this way."

Sgt. Sean Kiernan, president of the ranking officer, said: "It is important that officers who fail to adhere to the most basic principle of law enforcement, which is the preservation of life, are held accountable for their failure to do their job in a just and appropriate way. Through several reforms made in Arlington in the past several years, we have built trust and created a harmonious balance between our officers and the community, which we value greatly, yet feel has eroded due to the actions of four officers in Minneapolis."

Both unions say they have heard the national outcry for reform, and wish to inform the Arlington community that the policies under which Arlington Police officers operate are progressive far beyond the national standards. These policies were drafted over the past several years as the department has continued to evolve through community policing and community partnerships.

These reforms include, but are not limited to: community policing, problem solving, enhanced training in de-escalation and bias-free policing, collaboration with social and mental health providers, noncriminal responses to minor drug and behavior misdemeanors, an expanded presence in schools and progressive reforms in use-of-force policies.

Along with standard training on de-escalation techniques, mental health, diversity and inclusion, fair and impartial policing and police legitimacy, Arlington officers complete advanced training through the Police Executive Research Forum entitled “Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics” or ICAT

ICAT is training about use of force that combines the key principles of critical thinking, crisis intervention, communications and tactics. Part of ICAT's mission is to provide training that reduces the need to use deadly force and helps officers assess critical situations and make safe and effective decisions.

"We have embarked on sincere and powerful reform efforts in the last several years that go far beyond the general idea of procedural justice, and we will continue to move forward with these reforms," Sgt. Kiernan said. "Our officers do an outstanding job every day providing a range of services in many different situations and circumstances, and conduct themselves with compassion and integrity. Serving our community with honor has always been our top priority, and this will not change."

This news announcement by Leah Comins was published Friday, June 12, 2020. The writer works for John Guilfoil Public Relations, which provides news releases to the town. 

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