Dismantling Inequities in Brooklyn Center

Edwards works to rebuild community in wake of Daunte Wright’s death, pandemic.

Reggie Edwards became city manager of Brooklyn Center the day after Daunte Wright was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center police in April 2021. Kimberly Potter, the officer who shot Wright, said she mistakenly used her gun instead of a taser. She was sentenced to two years in prison in February.

Edwards stepped into the position at a difficult time for Brooklyn Center, an inner suburb of Minneapolis. The community was dealing with the pandemic, the killing of Daunte Wright and the reaction to it.

“Stepping into that role was immediately simply trying to bring a sense of stability to a situation that was fairly chaotic,” Edwards said. “We were in the midst of COVID, which was unprecedented in the impact that that was having on the community. And so there were great challenges before the Daunte Wright situation occurred.”

Brooklyn Center is a city that has changed a lot in the 21st century.
It has become the second most diverse city in Minnesota. So what did Edwards set out to accomplish when he took the job?

“Basically, dismantle racism and inequities to bring about fairness and justice for all of our residents,” Edwards said. “And also to dispel disparities during COVID and during the civil unrest following the death of Daunte.”

After Wright’s death, the Brooklyn Center City Council responded by passing the Daunte
Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution Act. Dimock- Heisler was killed in August 2019 by two Brooklyn Center police officers.

The act creates two boards that examine complaints around policing. It also creates a community response team with more unarmed responders.

Brooklyn Center City Manager Reggie Edwards
Brooklyn Center City Manager Reggie Edwards

Edwards said the basic element of the act is being community focused. It’s important that the community has a say and be engaged within the community.

The second component pertains to what relates to policing and what the city can achieve to reduce the probability of a young black man being shot and killed.

“The community, and particularly those who have been part of the criminal justice system, have a voice and have a perspective about how we transform,” Edwards said.

Brooklyn Center has been trying to improve the relationship between the police department and the community. The goal is for residents to feel a sense of safety and security, whether it is a crime that’s been committed or other issues relating to the policing. The city also wants to ensure residents will get the appropriate police response to issues.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department’s new system helps make the community feel more comfortable with officers by addressing over-policing. One way they are trying to address this is by sending practitioners for mental health issues instead of sending law enforcement officers.

A second way the city is trying to address these issues is by sending unarmed civilian law enforcement officers to traffic stops for an expired license tab or broken taillight.

Edwards wants everyone to have the opportunity to thrive in the community. Addressing policing is a part of this.

“Every resident has a sense of the quality of life, and every resident believes that there’s a sense of belonging and they’re welcome here in this city,” Edwards said.