In the year that has passed since the nation was confronted with harrowing video showing a Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd, police and politicians across the country have been scrutinizing the failures in police leadership, culture and training that Floyd’s murder exposed as they seek to redefine policing in America.
Police leaders in major cities are incorporating lessons learned from the Floyd case into their use of force policies, such as the obligation of fellow officers to intervene in excessive force incidents, rendering first aid to those harmed by police, and holding officers accountable by their colleagues for complaints and allegations of misconduct.
But as departments face an anti-police climate, as well as calls to defund their budgets following several police killings of Black Americans, law enforcement leaders face the daunting long-term challenge of fostering a cultural change while building trust with communities even as new incidents of excessive force dominate the news cycle.
“There is an appreciation for just how fragile that trust is because the Floyd incident happened in Minneapolis yet cities across America are impacted by it,” said Charles Ramsey, former DC and Philadelphia police chief and a CNN law enforcement analyst. “It doesn’t matter any longer where an incident occurs, it’s going to affect law enforcement across the country. That realization really hit home.”
Floyd’s murder spurred one of the largest protest movements in American history, and with it came an unprecedented wave of police reform efforts that dominated local, state and federal legislative agendas.
A landmark bill in Congress called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed the House in March but does not have enough votes to advance in the Senate in its current form. Bipartisan negotiators expressed new found optimism on Monday that a compromise on several key aspects of the bill is within reach.
Chauvin, who had 18 complaints filed against him before his May 25 encounter with Floyd, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter charges by a Minneapolis jury last month. The viral video taken by a bystander shows Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd as he laid handcuffed and prone on the street after being apprehended for allegedly passing a $20 counterfeit bill at a corner store. Prosecutors in the trial said Chauvin knelt on the neck and back of Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.