A database tracking police misconduct – part of the police reform legislation enacted into law last year – won’t work as lawmakers intended without changing the law on what goes into the database.
That’s the message Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope) brought to the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee Thursday.
Currently, only public data can be shared to the database, which does not include officer complaints where no formal discipline was taken, Frazier said.
The committee approved the bill, as amended, on an 11-7 party-line vote Thursday and sent it to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee. There is no Senate companion.
The POST Board regulates education, selection, licensing, and training standards for the state’s more than 11,800 peace officers.
Private data that would be shared with the POST Board would stay private within the internal records of the agency, Frazier said, and would not be released in the board’s annual report to the public.
But the POST Board would have more information at hand to develop “an effective early warning system to identify problem officers,” Frazier said.
The need to collect this kind of data was made clear during the investigation of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, said Gina Erickson, assistant professor of criminology in the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science at Hamline University.
Only during the investigation into the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Chauvin did the public learn that Chauvin had numerous previous complaints of excessive force, Erickson said.
Until the incident, she said those pieces of “vital information” were known by only a few members of the Minneapolis Police Department.
“Collecting data earlier and more often is a way we can work toward proactively preventing these kinds of tragedies in the future,” she said.
Erik Misselt, executive director of the POST Board, said he would welcome the extra data on officer complaints.
Without such private data, he said, the POST Board would actually be unable to comply with a key provision in the 2020 law requiring the board “to identify patterns of behavior suggesting an officer is in crisis or is likely to violate a board-mandated model policy.”