New police relations council will include family of Castile and Clark

The council will present its ideas to the governor and state Legislature.
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Gov. Mark Dayton is using his executive powers to find a way to improve trust between police and the community.

Dayton issued an executive order Wednesday, establishing the Governor's Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations.

“It is essential that Minnesota’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems work for all Minnesotans, including both our law enforcement officers and the communities they bravely serve,” Dayton said in a news release. “This council is an important first step to ensuring greater trust, safety, and justice for all Minnesotans."

This comes after repeated calls for police reform in the wake of officers in both Minnesota and elsewhere fatally shooting black men.

Who is on the council?

The council will be made up of law enforcement officials, community leaders, and representatives of communities of color, including a member from Black Lives Matter and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among others. Family members of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile – two black men who were fatally shot by police in Minnesota in the past year – will also be part of the council. (For a complete list, click here.)

These members will be tasked with finding practical ways to improve police-community relations, review best practices, and recommend specific reforms.

“In order to build a stronger Minnesota, the police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial, and gender diversity of the communities they serve,” Fourth District Judge Pamela G. Alexander, who is the co-chair of the council, said in a statement. "This will require engagement with the community to come up with policies and procedures that embrace the uniqueness of each community and engage in rigorous training to build trust."

Alexander suggests training should focus on implicit bias, procedural justice, relationship-based policing, community interaction, and crisis intervention, among other things.

The group's preliminary recommendations will be given to Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature by Feb. 15, 2017, with the final report expected by the end of June.

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