Latest Police Accountability Plans in MN Legislature Criticized
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Gov. Tim Walz has signed orders related to police accountability in Minnesota, coinciding with provisions in a last-minute budget bill, but activists and some lawmakers argued the state didn't include ideas that would make a difference.
Since George Floyd's murder, Minnesota has faced scrutiny to address police misconduct and brutality. Watchdogs say a reform package approved last year didn't have enough teeth.
New talks were held this year, but a public-safety bill at the end of the special session includes an agreement critics say is watered down.
Rep. Esther Agbaje, D-Minneapolis, said law enforcement should be heavily monitored, like other professions.
"We have stringent rules for doctors, for lawyers, for teachers, cosmetologists, truck drivers, pilots, you name it," Agbaje pointed out.
She suggested current rules for police aren't enough to prevent deadly encounters.
The legislative plan, to be voted on today, covers such areas as no-knock warrants, but other items, like limits on traffic stops, weren't included. Senate Republicans say they don't want to restrict police officers from doing their jobs.
The governor's plan involves spending $15 million in federal grant funding on violence-prevention programs.
The Walz plan also aims to give families of victims killed by officers quicker access to body-camera footage.
Meanwhile, Agbaje contended the Legislature can't just take minimal action, especially after former officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced for more than 20-years in prison for Floyd's murder.
"And if we truly love one another and are [going to] see each other as neighbors and friends, and as one Minnesota, then we must reflect that through this bill," Agbaje asserted.
The lawmakers pushing a broader bill said they will try to add amendments, but it was unclear if they would make it into the final plan. The public-safety bill was one of the last spending measures in the budget process before this Wednesday's deadline.
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