Originally published by USA TODAY in March 2016.
The Metro Transit Police Department in Minneapolis is attempting to combat racial biases with implicit bias training, foreign language courses and a renewed commitment to giving a warning, rather than a citation, to first-time offenders who evade Metro fairs. The reforms have been implemented, in part, as a response to an internal investigation of the department in December, which revealed that black males were 16% more likely to be issued a citation and 40% more likely to be arrested, as compared with white males.
In February, some officers in the department were offered Somali language courses so they could be better equipped to handle situations involving Somalian immigrants in the city. The goal of the seven week program is to make officers more relatable to this sector of the population, and to create a basic level of understanding for officers who may not have immediate access to a translator.
The department’s reforms also come in light of the fatal Minneapolis police shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, in November 2015. On Wednesday, an investigation ruled the pair of cops involved in the incident would not be charged in Clark’s death and that DNA suggested the officers acted in self defense and that the young, unarmed, black man reached for one of the officer’s guns during the altercation. Clark’s death sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations in the city that caused other clashes with police.