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Accountability Group: MN Taking Minimal Action on Police Reform

The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May ignited calls across the globe to re-examine police tactics and the structure of departments. (Adobe Stock)
The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May ignited calls across the globe to re-examine police tactics and the structure of departments. (Adobe Stock)
July 21, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Legislature has approved a series of law enforcement accountability measures, two months after the police killing of George Floyd. But one group says it appears the public's voice has been silenced.

Some of the key areas of focus included a ban on chokeholds and so-called "warrior training" for officers. Michelle Gross, director at Communities United Against Police Brutality, said some of the provisions could help. But after scores of protests demanding serious change, she said it appears lawmakers opted for a soft approach.

"They have presumed to know what the community wanted, and in doing so, basically, they put in bills that are weak, that some of them would not have any positive impact," Gross said.

Her group pushed for ideas such as requiring officers to carry liability insurance, and removing the statute of limitations on wrongful-death cases. A provision they did support, increased autism training, was included.

Some House Democrats suggested that even though the bill wasn't as big as they wanted, additional reforms could happen. A key Republican called it common-sense reform that both police and community leaders can support.

Gross said her fear is that if other serious changes aren't adopted this summer, the issue will become an afterthought.

"The Legislature likes to touch everything once," she said. "And you won't be able to get them to look at this issue again for a long, long time."

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the police accountability bill.

Outside of the Legislature, the city of Minneapolis is looking at a massive overhaul of its police department in response to the Floyd killing. That process now is in the hands of the city's charter commission.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN