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What's in the police accountability package passed by the Minnesota Legislature?

The bill passed the House and Senate in the early hours of Tuesday.
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State lawmakers passed a reform bill bringing changes to policing in Minnesota in the early hours of Tuesday morning as the latest legislative Special Session came to a close.

Lawmakers had been brought back to the Capitol by Gov. Tim Walz after the previous Special Session failed to result in agreement on policing and bonding.

This time, the Republican-led Senate and the DFL-led House were able to agree on a series of measures on police accountability, almost two months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But efforts to pass a $1.35 billion bonding bill funding infrastructure projects in Minnesota fell short, with Republicans wanting to tie it to an agreement limiting Walz's power to issue executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's a look at some of the key points from the police accountability bill that passed the Legislature, and will now head to Walz's desk to be signed:

  • A ban on the use of chokeholds and restraint measures including tying all of a person's limbs together behind the back, or securing them in a way that results in them being transported face down in a vehicle. There is an exception for when a peace officer needs to be protected from death or great bodily harm.
  • A ban on "warrior-style" training that "dehumanizes people and encourages aggressive conduct" by police officers. Police departments can no longer offer this training directly or through a third-party, nor can they reimburse officers or grant credits for those who undergo the training.
  • The creation of a six-person panel of experts to act as arbitrators in police misconduct cases, which follows criticism of numerous occasions when police officers fired for misconduct were re-admitted to the force. They will be appointed by the Commissioner of Bureau Mediation Services, "in consultation with community and law enforcement stakeholders."
  • Additional training for police in crisis intervention and de-escalation, as well as training focusing on interactions with people with autism or mental illness, cultural bias, and education so that police can better "relate to diverse communities."
  • Cities and counties will be allowed to offer incentives to encourage police officers to live in the communities they serve, which follows criticism of Minneapolis.
  • The creation of a new Community Relations Advisory Council consisting of police leaders, community members, a victim's advocate and a mental health expert, among others. It will consult with the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board on policy changes.
  • Stricter requirements for reporting officer-involved use-of-force incidents, and the creation of an independent unit for investigating use-of-force incidents at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

DFL lawmakers had hoped to pass more changes in the bill, including restoring voting rights to felons on supervision, and giving the responsibility for prosecuting officer-involved shooting cases to the Attorney General. These did not make the final bill.

It's expected that lawmakers will be called back again in August for another Special Session to pass a bonding bill.

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