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Reform Group: Report to Reduce MN Police Shootings Falls Short

Last year, 14 community members and one law-enforcement officer died in Minnesota in deadly-force encounters. (Adobe Stock)
Last year, 14 community members and one law-enforcement officer died in Minnesota in deadly-force encounters. (Adobe Stock)
February 26, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- A new report offers nearly 30 recommendations for reducing deadly police shootings in Minnesota, but one watchdog group says the findings fall well short of meeting that goal.

This week's report -- from a group of law-enforcement officials, community leaders, academics and others -- asks the state to adopt a variety of steps. It suggests enhanced deescalation training and more guidance in dealing with people experiencing mental-health crises.

Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said there's a lot missing from the report.

"We have a lot of concerns about just the real lack of meat to this document," she said.

Gross said she thinks it should have included a call for an independent organization, with no connections to police agencies, to investigate deadly-force incidents. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension currently handles those, and the report suggested creating an independent unit within the bureau to investigate. Gross said that wouldn't remove potential conflicts of interest.

The working group that prepared the report arose out of high-profile police shootings involving black men in the Twin Cities area. In announcing the recommendations, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington noted that it's a statewide issue they're trying to tackle.

"These actions have affected not just a few, but literally almost every county in the state of Minnesota," he said, "and the number of families that have lost loved ones on both sides of the line."

Of the more than 100 police-involved shootings in Minnesota in the past five years, the report said 60% happened in Greater Minnesota. Harrington says the department needs more spending authorization from state lawmakers to put the recommendations in place.

The report is online at dps.mn.gov.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN