Minnesota Business Partnership Urges Lawmakers to Pass Policing Reform in Special Session

Policy recommendations aim to address police misconduct and increase accountability and transparency

Minneapolis – The Minnesota Business Partnership (MBP) today released policing reform recommendations in advance of the upcoming Special Session, which convenes on Friday, June 12. The recommendations are aimed at addressing police misconduct and increasing accountability and transparency. (See full list of recommendations below.)

“Minnesota’s business leaders are united in a commitment to address not only policing reforms, but also the broader need to advance social and racial justice in our society,” said Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership. “Our recommendations are a starting point for reform, not the finish line. Systemic change requires hard work, and some reforms will require consensus-building over time. The Partnership and its members are prepared to continue to engage vigorously in this process for the long term.”

More than 80 members of the Partnership signed a letter urging lawmakers to pass policing reform when they convene for a Special Session this week. The substance of the recommendations are derived from a February 2020 report by the State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters. The Working Group, which spent nine months conducting hearings and taking testimony from the public, was co-chaired by Attorney General Keith Ellison and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and comprised of a diverse membership including law enforcement, mental health, academic, and community leaders.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Encourage all police agencies to adopt use-of-force policies that make sanctity of life a core organizational value.
  • Require law enforcement agencies to implement an Early Intervention Program (EIP) for officers and dispatchers that is designed to identify problem behaviors at the earliest possible stage so that intervention and support can be offered in a non-disciplinary manner.
  • Expand resources and increase statewide awareness of existing resources, to improve the mental health and wellness of first responders and dispatchers.
  • Require law enforcement agencies to adopt data practices that promote transparency, openness, and accountability. This includes collecting, analyzing, and publishing data about the nature of police-community interactions, use of force, and police-involved deadly force encounters.
  • Create an independent and specialized investigation unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) with the authority to investigate all officer-involved shootings and uses of force that result in death or severe bodily injury.
  • Work with the Attorney General and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association to enable the Attorney General’s Office to be supportive and engaged around deadly-force encounters in terms of expertise, resources, conflicts, jurisdiction, or other issues.
  • Direct the Department of Public Safety to work with law enforcement associations, police unions, local officials, and community leaders to promote more effective models of community policing.
  • Increase state-provided law enforcement training funding where appropriate.
  • Increase police training on interactions with African Americans and people of color.
  • Increase police training on interactions with people with disabilities, and people experiencing a mental-health crisis during interactions with law enforcement.
  • Explore the non-disciplinary use of body camera video and simulator scenarios to identify training to improve officer performance through proactive coaching/mentoring and training in de-escalation tactics.
  • Encourage local law enforcement agencies to work with community partners to engage them in the standards, expectations and recruitment of officers that know their local communities and increase the diversity of their workforce.
  • Ensure that all law enforcement agencies are trained in de-escalation tactics and skills in order to reduce use-of-force, especially when responding to persons in crisis.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

In addition to the above recommendations derived from the Working Group, the Partnership urges lawmakers to consider the following recently proposed reforms:

  • Repeal the state law that mandates binding arbitration for law enforcement officers accused of misconduct.
  • Change laws governing collective bargaining agreements that impede discipline of officers who seriously betray the public trust.
  • Enhance screening to prevent unacceptable applicants for positions in law enforcement from being hired and ensure clear and enforced guidelines that define acceptable and unacceptable behavior and policing tactics.