Experts: The impact of the Chauvin case on police work is yet to be seen

The conviction of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, and the long prison sentence for George Floyd's murder could result in better police training and hiring. This could encourage more trust between officers and their communities.

Experts: The impact of the Chauvin case on police work is yet to be seen

It might have also made future jurors and the public more open to long-standing complaints about police interactions in minorities' cases.

Even so, it's hard to believe that this case marked a turning point in lasting change. It was captured by a bystander and showed Chauvin kneeling down on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes.

" The conviction is critically important in part because of how blatantly violent it was and because of what the video couldn’t allow the lies police tell in such situations to dominate the narrative," stated Sheila A. Bedi of Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law, and director of the school’s Community Justice & Civil Rights Clinic.

However, the outcome of Chauvin's case, including his 22 1/2 year sentence, doesn't address deeply-rooted racism and violence that affects police interactions with minoritiesthat do not result in charges or convictions for officers. Bedi has been involved in many use-of force lawsuits against Chicago Police Department.

She said, "And until that happens, I warn anyone to celebrate conviction and sentence like a victory."

Officers who are accused of misconduct or brutality against Black people don't go to trial very often. The list of mistrials and acquittals is much longer than the list sentencings. This includes the recent acquittals of officers involved in the deaths in suburban Minneapolis of Philando Castile and in Tulsa of Terence Crutcher.

Since 2005, eleven non-federal law officials, including Chauvin were convicted of on-duty murder. The sentences of the nine non-federal law officers who were sentenced prior to Chauvin ranged from six years, nine month, or life behind bars with the median being fifteen years, according to Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor.

Minnesota Attorney-General Keith Ellison stated Friday that the outcome was a step towards accountability, even though it did not bring about total justice. He also urged federal, state, and local legislators to pass laws to improve police work, stating that Chauvin's sentence was not sufficient.

Experts believe that Chauvin's case was a high-profile one, which led people to believe more long-standing complaints about police interactions in Black communities, even though his actions were clearly wrong. Jurors may be less inclined to believe future police versions of events.

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and senior managing director at the consulting firm Guidepost Solutions, stated that "extreme cases by their nature open the public awareness... but this doesn't necessarily lead to across-the-board reform since the situation was so singular." What would the reform look like? For 9 1/2 minutes, don't place your knees on the neck of someone.

Despite being highly unusual, the testimony of Minneapolis Police Department officers and the chief that Chauvin had violated his training could cause officers to reconsider using force.

Cramer stated, "And if that happens, it's good." "Anyone who has been around this game for a while knows that it all comes down to hiring practices, training, and ultimately it's one officer in a particular situation. These situations are not likely to end anytime soon, I believe.

Experts said that officers could also be given pause knowing their encounters could be recorded on cell phone video. Minneapolis police initially stated that Floyd had died from a medical emergency. However, Darnella Frazier filmed video of Chauvin refusing to listen to Floyd's pleas for help and continued pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck after he was declared dead.

Kirk Burkhalter is a New York Law School criminal law professor and an ex-detective for the New York Police Department for 20 years. He said that police are being asked too many things, particularly in cases involving minor crimes or people with mental illness. Floyd was accused of trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a corner shop.

Burkhalter, who heads the 21st Century Policing Project at the law school, said that while we often see poor police decisions in a lot these situations, they are situations we shouldn't have put cops into. This project addresses relations between police and their communities.

Ellison, the attorney-general, stated that he hopes Chauvin's conviction was a "moment of change" in relation to trust between police officers and minority communities.

Ellison stated, "You can't heal an open wound. And when there's no trust, there's very little safety."

Cramer stated that it doesn't matter which laws or regulations are passed to address policing issues if this larger issue is not addressed.

Cramer stated, "I want you to believe I'm optimistic, but... pick any place: The mutual distrust at this level is at a degree I don't believe I've ever seen since I started doing this." If both sides are willing to work together to solve the problem, we have a fighting chance.

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