The Northfield Police Department appreciates, understands, and recognizes the concerns related to the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis Police officers, as well as the many related questions and demands related to race, justice, and police use of force. We, along with the Law Enforcement community as a whole, recognize the failure of these officers to follow established police practices to avoid the death of Mr. Floyd.
The Northfield Police Department (NPD) wishes to acknowledge these concerns and reaffirm our commitment to the fair treatment of all persons regardless of race, culture, immigration status, other protected status, or economic status. The NPD also wishes to share information about department training, education, and policies.
NPD training and policies encompass many of the subjects currently being discussed or demanded. These include implicit bias training; crisis intervention training; de-escalation; response to and recognizing persons in mental health crisis; race and equity considerations – working with minority communities; and a broad range of use of force training. More importantly, NPD stresses live, scenario-based training related to these topics so officers learn how to utilize these skills in real life situations.
NPD also ensures our officers and staff have proper, well-maintained equipment to perform their duties. Specifically, we equip officers with many less-lethal tools and training to avoid or lessen the potential of injury if, and when they must use force.
NPD does not currently utilize body cameras. We do have squad video cameras to record incidents around squad cars and voice recordings beyond camera view. The purchase of body cameras has been included in budget discussions for several years and will continue to be a priority request for NPD.
NPD regularly reviews and updates our training and practices to ensure we are following current best practices and mandates. We rely on numerous sources to accomplish this, including the President’s 21st Century Policing Report, Minnesota POST Board standards and mandated policies, professional and governmental law enforcement associations, and now the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Deadly Force Encounters Work Group recommendations.
In 2019, NPD underwent an assessment conducted by the Novak Consulting Group to evaluate department staffing, processes, and policies. The assessment helped the department identify areas for improvement and prioritize efforts for the future. NPD is using this information to create a plan for the department that aligns with modern police practices and the City of Northfield strategic plan.
The department has also contracted with Lexipol (a premier police policy and training firm) to review and update department policies. This process will result in NPD policies that align with the latest industry standards, as well as federal and state mandates. Lexipol will also provide on-going policy updates and officer training.
In addition to the training, equipment, and policies that NPD has established, we will continue to emphasize community policing, local partnerships, and relationship building. Our vow has been, and will continue to be, that officers treat all community members with dignity and respect. In particular, the department has worked to improve relationships and understanding with minority groups including our Latino community and other partner groups such as Growing Up Healthy, the Mayor’s Youth Council, Community Action Center, Northfield Public Schools, the local faith community, and many others.
In the coming weeks and months, the discussions and demands for change, legislation, and regulation will continue. The Northfield Police Department will continue our commitment to updating and improving our training, policies, procedures, and community partnerships to provide the best public safety services for all of our community members. We all have the right to feel safe and respected in our community, in our interactions with each other, and with our police officers.
Chief of Police