MN Government Updates 06.02

Minnesota Department of Human Rights Files Civil Rights Charge Against Minneapolis Police Department

Today, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will begin an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd. This investigation into policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years will determine if the MPD has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped. Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero will lead the investigation.

Minnesota has one of the strongest civil rights laws in the country. It is illegal for a police department to discriminate against someone because of their race. This action against a police department will allow the Department of Human Rights to take swift action in response to any determination of civil rights violations.

“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As we move forward, we ask the community to watch what we do, not what we say. It is going to take action at all levels from the neighborhood on up, to get the change we need to see. This effort is only one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with those in the community who have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”

“All of us agree that hate and discrimination should not be part of the fabric of this great state,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “But the grief and anger of this past week did not emerge from a vacuum. This is about a culture that continues to go unchecked. We can and must choose to do better. George Floyd, and the state as a whole, deserves this of us.”

“George Floyd should be alive. He deserved to live a life full of dignity and joy,” said MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Community leaders have been asking for structural change for decades. They have fought for this and it is essential that we acknowledge the work and commitment of those who have paved the path to make today’s announcement possible.”

The Department of Human Rights will seek agreement from city leadership and the MPD to immediately implement interim measures in advance of long-term measures to address systemic discriminatory practices.

Legislative People of Color and Indigenous Caucus Propose Police and Criminal Justice Changes

Today, the legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus discussed legislative responses to the murder of George Floyd. The POCI Caucus intends to make police and criminal justice reform a top priority of the likely June special session and into the future.

“George Floyd’s death was due to a horrifying lack of humanity, and Minnesotans are far too familiar with the pain and trauma resulting from violence at the hands of law enforcement. This simply cannot be how policing works in our state,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division. “I’m grateful to partner with a strong group of legislators – with my colleagues of color and those from Indigenous communities leading the way – who are committed to equity, justice, and accountability so Black Minnesotans can live with the inherent dignity every human being deserves.”

“For too long, people in my community have been told they will have to wait for the systemic changes necessary to ensure people of color can don’t have to live in fear of law enforcement,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus. “They are tired of waiting for reform, tired of waiting for accountability, and tired of waiting for justice. George Floyd should be alive, and it’s time for all hands to come on deck and fundamentally change how police interact with Black men and boys.”

Legislation under consideration includes the following:

Reforming the investigation and prosecution of officer-involved of officer-involved deaths and wrongful actions

  • Move primary investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths to the Attorney General’s Office
  • Modify use-of-force laws to prevent wrongful deaths
  • Create a new crime for unjustified use of force that results in death or great bodily harm
  • Strengthen independence of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and design an alternative independent body to their jurisdiction
  • Conduct a review of Medical Examiners to ensure independence and timely action
  • Change civil liability statute of limitations for families of individuals killed by police

Increase police accountability and transparency

  • Collect and centralize for public access, real-time data on deadly-force encounters
  • Establish law enforcement-citizen oversight councils to provide needed community involvement in policing
  • Establish a Critical Incident Review process for officer-involved deaths to inform policy change and prevention

Raise standards of conduct and support officer excellence

  • Change the laws governing agreements that impede discipline of officers seriously betraying the public trust
  • Reform the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to increase oversight of officer licensure and training
  • Expand the POST Licensing Board with more public membership and racial diversity
  • Create a legal duty for officers to intervene in the wrongful use of force by fellow officers.
  • Create a POST Board Community Policing Rulemaking Council
  • Expand training in de-escalation, mental health crisis intervention, and responding to people with disabilities
  • Prohibit use of “Bullet-Proof Warrior” style use of force training
  • Offer peer-to-peer counseling for peace officers and establish privacy-protections for officers in counseling

Partner officers with the communities they serve

  • Create powerful incentives for officers to live in the communities they serve by lifting the state ban on local-residence requirements
  • Provide new resources to increase diversity in police forces

Repair and build community trust and create community-centered public safety

  • Provide state funding for programs for community-based intervenors and problem-solvers that can partner with local peace officers.
  • Increase investment in community-based mental health and trauma-informed services
  • Direct POST board to develop model policy on use of force in responding to peaceful protests

The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division will hold a hearing on the proposals next week.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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