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Police reform measures again headed to House Floor

A bouquet from an earlier vigil in memory of Minnesotans killed by police remained on the security fence around the State Capitol the evening of June 18 as, inside, House members debated a package of police reform bills. Photo by Andrew VonBank

The Memorial Day death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police inspired a host of legislative provisions about police reform, accountability and training that was passed by the House, but not the Senate, during last month’s first special session.

Now the House legislation has risen again.

Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), SSHF1 contains almost all of the original provisions brought forth during the last special session, even some that Senate negotiators have deemed “off the table.”

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill 17-11 and sent it to the House floor. The vote was along party lines except for Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) voting no.

The provisions within HF1 would:

  • expand and revise the membership of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board;
  • establish a police-community relations council under the POST Board;
  • allow community-based research organizations to compile data in order to improve policing practices;
  • require local units of government with a law enforcement agency of 50 or larger to establish a citizen oversight council;
  • allow cities or counties to enforce residency requirements for officers;
  • lift the statute of limitations on seeking damages based on officer-involved death or sexual abuse;
  • impose limitations on certain restraints, including chokeholds;
  • allow termination of officers for violation of an agency’s use-of-force policy;
  • prohibit “warrior-style” training designed to increase an officer’s willingness to use deadly force in encounters with community members;
  • make mandatory the reporting of misconduct-related terminations and resignations to the POST Board;
  • add to training requirements conflict de-escalation and duty to intercede when another officer is using unreasonable force;
  • require law enforcement agencies to establish and enforce “duty to intercede” policies;
  • establish a roster of arbitrators specifically for peace officer grievances;
  • make the attorney general responsible for prosecution in officer-involved death cases;
  • create an independent use-of-force investigations unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension;
  • allow for the release of people charged with a misdemeanor;
  • establish public safety peer counseling for first responders experiencing trauma, illness or stress;
  • provide critical incident stress management services for emergency service providers;
  • restore the right to vote for people convicted of a felony upon release from incarceration;
  • establish an officer-involved death review board within the Department of Public Safety;
  • appoint a statewide community-led public safety coordinator in the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs;
  • require the reporting of officer-involved use-of-force incidents to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension;
  • establish training requirements in crisis intervention, mental illness crisis and autism;
  • create collaborations between county mobile crisis mental health services and municipal law enforcement agencies; and
  • establish grants for community-based responses to crises and promoting community healing.

On the final night of the June special session, Senate negotiators said they would not accept provisions on expanded prosecutorial powers for the attorney general or restoring the right to vote for convicted felons upon release.

House Ways and Means Committee hears package of police reform measures 7/14/20

Nonpartisan House Fiscal Analysis estimates that the bill’s provisions would cost the General Fund $22.7 million in fiscal year 2021 and $22 million in both fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Mariani said determining how to fund the proposals is part of ongoing negotiations with House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake).

“My chief concern is how we are paying for things,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington). “I will be voting no, but I know that your heart is in the right place. I wish you well in compromising on this bill.”

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