Police lights

Republican Eagle file photo

Gov. Tim Walz put directed funds and programming into emergency police reform Monday, June 28, as the Minnesota House and Senate prepared to vote on a bipartisan public safety plan to make Minnesota’s criminal justice system more fair.

“Right now, we have an opportunity to create safer communities for all Minnesotans by building a public safety system focused on transparency, accountability, and violence prevention,” the governor said in a news release. “These policy changes and increased investments in safety — together with the Minnesota Police Accountability Act signed into law last summer and the bipartisan public safety plan this legislative session — get us closer to a system of public safety that truly protects all Minnesotans.”

The governor's actions include:

Intervention funds

Directing $15 million in American Rescue Plan flexible funds toward community violence intervention, survivor support grants, and innovations in community safety grants.

POST accountability

Reviewing what data the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training Board collects and then organizing it on a public-facing dashboard. He is also directing a follow through, making the community central to the work, on the board’s current efforts to overhaul its rules, including the complaint investigations and a full review of compliance processes. 

The board completed a top-to-bottom audit in 2020 and said it has numerous reforms in process, such as how officers are trained and held accountable through licensure.

Body cameras

Requiring policy changes to state law enforcement video footage to allow families suffering the loss of a loved one in a deadly force encounter with police to view video of the incident within five days.

Funding for body-worn cameras for every officer who serves with:

  • Minnesota State Patrol
  • Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement
  • Department of Natural Resources Enforcement
  • Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit

As a part of implementing body-worn cameras, state law requires each agency to develop a policy for their use. Agencies must provide for public comment and input, and post the written policy on their websites before body-worn cameras can be used in the field. Once the public safety bill is signed into law, state law enforcement agencies will begin development of their policies to ensure compliance with state law.

Omnibus bill

In the coming days, the Minnesota Legislature is expected to take action on an omnibus public safety budget bill. That bill includes reform measures such as restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants, increasing mental health response in crisis calls, reforming civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement, and provides body cameras for law enforcement at the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Natural Resources. The bill also overhauls how Minnesota enforces safety standards and reforms use of force guidelines in Minnesota jails and prisons.

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