Most law enforcement officers are professional in their duties, but the troubles of the Metro Gang Strike Force gave a black eye to criminal enforcement teams.
A new law aims to ensure what happened with that unit doesn’t happen again.
Effective Aug. 1, 2010, unless otherwise noted, the law creates a Violent Crime Coordinating Council to offer guidance on gang and drug crime investigation and prosecution. Its duties will include development of an operating procedures and policies manual, recommending a candidate for statewide coordinator and developing policies “that prohibit the improper use of characteristics such as race, color, national origin, gender, or religion to target individuals for law enforcement action, prosecution, or forfeiture action.”
Two reports from last summer indicated that 10 or 12 gang strike force officers may have illegally taken cash or property from people with no gang connections. The reports indicate that cash was missing from strike force storage areas and officers allegedly took some property for personal use. Other property was sold to officers or family members for pennies on the dollar.
The law dissolves the Metro Gang Strike Force, effective July 1, 2011, but all current and future obligations and liabilities of the force stay with the parties that created the joint powers agreement that created the force.
A big change would be authority given the public safety commissioner.
When the commissioner became aware of the gang strike force problem, all he could do was shut off funding, but the force’s advisory board continued to exist. Under the law, the commissioner will have to certify the multijurisdictional entities and their designated fiscal agent. This way if it is determined there were any problems with a gang and drug strike force the commissioner could close it down.
The list of purposes for which law enforcement may access data in the Comprehensive Incident-Based Reporting System is expanded to include: serving process in a criminal case, informing law enforcement officers of possible safety issues before service of process, enforcing no contact orders, locating missing persons and when conducting background investigations on prospective licensed peace officers.
The superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is to create a working group to discuss laws and issues related to criminal intelligence databases. An executive summary document is due to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2011. In looking at public safety and privacy issues, the group is to “make recommendations on proposed legislative changes for the classification, storage, dissemination, and use of criminal investigative data, including data from other states, and for guidelines governing usage and collection of criminal investigative data held by law enforcement agencies.”
Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul) sponsor the law.
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