Legislation will not defund or dismantle police
(ST. PAUL, MN) – Amid the continued drama surrounding this year’s legislative session that endured a COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd, followed by riots, burning, and looting in the Twin Cities urban core, one major reform bill emerged during the recent second Special Session.
The Police Accountability Bill authored by State Senator Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) passed the Senate and House with wide bipartisan support. “This was not an easy bill to negotiate. Democrats and Republicans had partisan differences, philosophical differences, and differences between constituent groups,” said Senator Warren Limmer. “A high level of emotion often accompanied our discussions. We listened to alternative views from constituent groups, families that had lost loved ones at the hand of a police officer, law enforcement professionals, city and county officials, business leaders, and other community advocates for change.”
The negotiations started during the first Special Session in June and continued into the second Special Session, ending on July 20th. A month of on-and-off negotiations resulted in at least 16 offers between the House and Senate leaders.
When signing the bill into law, Governor Walz said, “this bipartisan piece of legislation moves us toward a critical step towards criminal justice reform” and called it, “meaningful legislation that will impact our communities in a positive way.”
Among many provisions, the new law prohibits police from using chokeholds and neck restraints- unless needed to preserve the life of an officer or innocent victim when all other options are unavailable. Bans law enforcement agencies from using “warrior-style” training. Makes it a duty for an officer to intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force, and requires a report to a superior. The bill also includes additional training for officers to better recognize mental health and autism issues, as well as programs for officers suffering from post-traumatic stress while on their job.
John Harrington, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety said, “the legislation that was just passed is absolutely leaps and bounds beyond what any other state has done.”
In addition, more citizen involvement on a new advisory task force is created to offer a community awareness to the MN Police Officer Standards and Training Board (POST Board) and primary investigative responsibilities involving excessive force to be conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
“The bill reflects agreement, compromise, and puts the safety and well-being of Minnesotans first,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. “We have the support of law enforcement to adopt and enforce these changes. Most importantly, there is nothing in this bill to defund, dismantle, or otherwise impede the ability of police officers to do their jobs.”