MN legislature passes police reform, accountability bill

police reform
MGN

The Police Accountability Act is headed to Gov. Walz after being approved in the Minnesota House late Monday night and early Tuesday morning in the Senate. The legislation, authored by members of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, contains police accountability reforms and measures with the goal of ensuring racial justice.

The passing of the bill follows weeks of work on behalf of the POCI Caucus to advance a package of police accountability reforms following the outcry against George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.

“Passing this bill is a major step forward toward reimagining our vision for public safety in Minnesota, and it is rooted in our core values of human dignity and the sanctity of life, which are shared across our state,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the POCI Caucus. “The solutions in this bill are urgent, and while it doesn’t include all of the POCI Caucus’s accountability proposals, it sets the foundation for a hopeful future for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.”

The bill is comprised of three different acts. The Reclaiming Community Oversight Act includes measures such as:

  • Prohibition on “warrior training”
  • A ban on chokeholds
  • Arbitration reform
  • Requiring the duty to intercede
  • Data collection and regulatory reform
  • Reforms to the Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board
  • The creation of a new advisory council with citizen voices

The Reforming Accountability Act includes investigatory reform measures and reforms to the use of force.

The Reimaging Public Safety Act contains solutions such as mental health and autism training, public safety peer counseling debriefing, and extension of training funds for the POST Board until 2024.

“By passing this bill into law, we’re taking the first steps toward major changes to hold police officers accountable for harmful acts, and we are committed to continuing our work for safer communities,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), bill author and chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division. “It wasn’t safe for George Floyd or for Philando Castile, and they deserved a better way to police that builds community.”

Gov. Walz showed his support for the measure this morning stating, “George Floyd’s death brought the need for meaningful police reform into sharp focus for Minnesotans across the state. After decades of advocacy by communities of color and Indigenous communities, the bipartisan passage of these measures is a critical step toward justice. This is only the beginning. The work does not end today.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe and protected by police,” continued Gov. Walz. “I look forward to signing into law these critical reforms to strengthen transparency and community oversight of policing, ban chokeholds and ‘warrior training,’ expand autism awareness and mental health de-escalation training for officers, and change the circumstances under which officers can use deadly force. These changes are long overdue.”

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added, “The murder of George Floyd has laid bare injustices in a law enforcement system that does not serve and protect all Minnesotans equally.

“The bills passed by the Legislature will establish necessary measures of accountability and initiate meaningful reform as we work together to build a system that values public safety for all. We must continue to work in partnership with those most affected to achieve real change. I am grateful to the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus for leading this conversation.”