Families of deadly police violence will see some bodycam video within 5 days, Walz says

Gov. Tim Walz on Monday directed state law enforcement agencies under his control to release body camera video sooner amid a series of executive action that comes after Democrats were unable to get several police accountability provisions into a public safety budget deal over the weekend.

Walz announced the move hours after the DFL's People of Color and Indigenous Caucus voiced frustration with this weekend's deal and activists questioned the governor's leadership. In turn, Walz said this weekend's deal was the best one Democrats could have gotten with Republicans in charge of the state Senate.

"The POCI caucus expressed it’s not enough. I agree with them. It isn’t enough," Walz, a Democrat, told reporters. "But just because I say it isn’t enough is probably not going to change the minds of Senate Republicans."

The House and Senate still must pass the bill by Wednesday's deadline to keep state prisons and courts funded.

Walz's executive action requires state-run law enforcement agencies to release body camera video to families within five days of a deadly force incident. The change applies to the Minnesota State Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement, Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and the Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit.

The move is short of what House Democrats have unsuccessfully sought in state budget negotiations. DFL lawmakers want video released within 48 hours at all agencies across the state, including local police departments.

The governor also announced he will spend $15 million in federal stimulus aid on violence prevention grants while directing Minnesota's police officer standards board to create a public-facing data dashboard.

State Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, questioned Walz's "testicular fortitude" during a news conference with activists Monday morning before the governor's announcement.

"All we’ve been getting from the governor’s office is lip service," Thompson told reporters. "There were no police accountability measures in this bill, and you have the authority to veto this bill and say no."

Walz said he would not veto the bill, as activists are demanding. Such a move would further polarize the state, he said.

Many POCI caucus lawmakers directed their frustration at Senate Republicans, whom they described as unwilling partners during negotiations.

Ahead of a planned Tuesday vote on the House floor, Democratic lawmakers of color said they would offer several amendments to get police changes they've sought. Among the amendments: a ban on traffic stops for minor equipment violations, restrictions on arrest warrants, and increasing the statute of limitations on lawsuits against police officers.

No one at the news conference raised their hands when asked if they would vote against the bill without the amendments. Democrats have a narrow 70-64 margin in the chamber, meaning the bill would be in jeopardy if enough DFL members vote against it.

"It is my bill. I’ll be voting for the bill. And I certainly would understand why lots of other folks will not vote for the bill," House Public Safety committee chair Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, told reporters.

Senate Republicans who blocked many of the proposals said the final agreement was a compromise. Senate Judiciary chairman Warren Limmer said he couldn’t think of any police accountability measures that fell away this year that his committee would take up in 2022.

"We are not discounting the stories of the people from communities of color. Nevertheless, we’ll have to leave it for another session," said Limmer, R-Maple Grove.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said his caucus would strip out any changes that the House amends onto the bill Tuesday, saying the session is "really running out of daylight" with a partial government shutdown looming Thursday.