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Police licensing board's new rules ban white supremacist affiliation, set policy for protest response

The new rules come as the Minnesota Legislature has failed to pass bills on such measures.

The state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board agreed to adopt a new policy for law enforcement when they respond to protests, as well as another banning officers who affiliate with white supremacist groups.

The 16-member state police licensing board approved the two new measures unanimously on Thursday. 

These new rules come amid loud calls for police reform in Minnesota following the killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright and the subsequent protests, which involved police using tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters and the press. 

Gov. Tim Walz, who appointed seven of the POST Board's newest members earlier this year, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and others urged the board to make these changes in an effort to rebuild police-community relations.  

Prior to the board's meeting, Walz called on members to increase trust and transparency in policing, saying in a letter: 

“Your work as members of the POST Board, a duly authorized and empowered professional licensing body, is critical to ensuring the law enforcement profession’s legitimacy and Minnesotans’ trust in their government. I ask you to rise to the moment by implementing bold and responsible proposals to heal divides in Minnesota.”

The proposals the Post Board approved will take several months before they're official. 

Once the new rules are official, those who violate the protest response policies could face licensure action, the Star Tribune says.

The rule changes are similar to the proposals included in the House omnibus public safety bill, which contained a slew of police reforms. However, such proposals were not included in the Senate version of the bill, and the GOP-controlled Senate voted against an amendment to ban peace officers who are members of hate groups and white supremacist groups.

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