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RELEASE: House GOP outlines concerns with Walz SAFE Account bill

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

HOUSE GOP OUTLINES CONCERNS WITH WALZ SAFE ACCOUNT BILL

SAINT PAUL, MN – House Republicans outlined concerns with a proposal from Gov. Tim Walz to create the SAFE Account which would provide $35 million in funding primarily for the law enforcement presence that will be required during the upcoming Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. 

“We all want to make sure that we don’t see a repeat of the chaos and riots from the past summer, but the Governor needs a wakeup call that $35 million is not going to magically solve the underlying problems,” said Deputy Republican Leader Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch. “In speaking with several law enforcement agencies, we know there is more concern about anti-police sentiment from residents and city leaders than there is about funding. Minneapolis’s refusal to responsibly fund and staff their police force will make them ill equipped for the upcoming trial. This now puts the rest of Minnesota on the hook for their bad decisions which is unacceptable.”

In a joint letter to the House Public Safety Committee the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association, and the Minneapolis Police Chiefs Association stated that “Our members remain concerned...that no matter what legislation is passed, the response for mutual aid will not be as robust as the public may expect. Our members’ concern is due to the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government.”

“While we want to make sure our law enforcement agencies have the resources needed to respond, this bill lets Minneapolis off the hook for defunding and downsizing their police department,” said Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, Republican Lead on the House Public Safety Committee and a retired law enforcement officer. "The Minneapolis Police Chief has repeatedly asked for more officers, but time and again is denied by Minneapolis politicians who want to defund, dismantle, or abolish police. It's unacceptable, and has consequences not just for Minneapolis but for every Minnesota taxpayer." 

Republicans outlined a series of concerns with the latest version of the bill, which puts the Commissioner of Public Safety solely in charge of deciding the reimbursement process without any legislative oversight, and expands the scope of eligible expenses to include planning, after-action costs, and costs within the community. A requirement was also added for the POST Board to create a model policy for “Public Assembly Response” and requires that any responding law enforcement agencies be held to those standards that could result in the loss of a peace officer's license even if there was no violation by their own department’s policies. 

The bill passed the Public Safety Committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, and is expected to be heard again in the Ways and Means Committee in the coming week.