A group of Minnesota legislators plans to make police and criminal justice reform a top priority when the legislature reconvenes for a special session that's expected this month.
The Minnesota Legislature's People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus announced on Tuesday its legislative responses to the killing of George Floyd.
“For too long, people in my community have been told they will have to wait for the systemic changes necessary to ensure people of color can don’t have to live in fear of law enforcement,” Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus said in a statement.
“They are tired of waiting for reform, tired of waiting for accountability, and tired of waiting for justice. George Floyd should be alive, and it’s time for all hands to come on deck and fundamentally change how police interact with black men and boys.”
The POCI Caucus is considering legislation that would reform the investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths and wrongful actions, increase police accountability and transparency, raise standards of conduct for officers, partner officers with the communities they live in and create community-centered public safety.
“While George Floyd’s killing was at the hands of four police individual police officers, structural racism and implicit bias have prevailed for generations, causing a great deal of trauma in our communities of color,” said Rep. Fue Lee (DFL-Minneapolis).
"These proposals are the first step in addressing this trauma, and we will work together to make systemic changes so this violence stops happening in our communities.”
One legislative item could include having the Attorney General's Office handle the investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths. Floyd's family and others called to have Attorney General Keith Ellison handle the prosecution of the officers involved in his death, and Gov. Tim Walz announced he'll be the lead on the investigation.
Some of the legislation that's being considered includes (read the rest here):
- Modifying use-of-force laws to prevent wrongful deaths
- Creating a new crime for unjustified use of force that results in death or great bodily harm
- Collecting and centralizing real-time data on deadly-force encounters that the public can access
- Creating incentives for officers to live in the communities they serve by lifting the state ban on local-residence requirements
- Creating a legal duty for officers to intervene in the wrongful use of force by fellow officers
- Increasing investment in community-based mental health and trauma-informed services
- Expanding training in de-escalation, mental health crisis intervention and responding to people with disabilities
- Providing new resources to increase diversity in police forces
- Directing the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to develop model policy on use of force in responding to peaceful protests
- Establishing law enforcement-citizen oversight councils to provide needed community involvement in policing
Some legislation is still being drafted, with bill language expected Friday evening, a news release says.
The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Division will hold a hearing on the proposals next week.
"The struggle for justice is not about black versus white, minority versus majority, or liberal versus conservative,” said Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis). “It is about right versus wrong and we all should be on the right side of this."