ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - On Thursday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders announced priorities for changes for law enforcement and accountability, which will be the focus of a special session that starts Friday.
The plans for change were drafted in response to the killing of George Floyd, who died while in Minneapolis police custody. Bystander video showed former police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground and pressing his knee onto his neck as Floyd cried out repeatedly that he could not breathe. Neither Chauvin nor the other three officers on scene moved from their positions under an ambulance arrived.
On Wednesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced his plans to reform the Minneapolis Police Department, starting by withdrawing from contract negotiations with the police union and restarting an effort to identify troubled police officers through early warning signs.
Alongside members of the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, Walz announced the following list of priorities:
Use of Force
- Reform of the statute that defines when law enforcement is justified in deadly force
Alternatives to Policing
- Creating a new office within the Department of Public Safety to allocate grants to community-based violence intervenors as a way to reduce interactions with police.
- Create funding for a co-responder form of policing, which pairs officers with a social worker for welfare checks and crisis calls
Police Oversight Reform
- Expand the POST Board by creating a Police-Community Relations Council
- Reform how the arbitrations of terminated law enforcement officers are handled
- Require real-time data collection and analysis of complaints, discipline and use of force data. The combined analysis will be used to help with reforms at the POST Board.
- Allow those who are not serving a sentence in a prison facility to regain their right to vote. This would restore the right to vote for more than 50,000 Minnesotans.
- Create a grant program to fund professional community healers, who are trained to respond to systemic oppression-induced historic and present-day trauma
Independent Prosecution and Investigation Reform
- Give the Attorney General independent jurisdiction for the prosecution of police-involved deaths
- Create an independent investigation unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for police-involved cases
- Expand training for de-escalation and mental health crisis intervention
Warrior Training and Choke Holds Prohibited
- No longer allow law enforcement to use restraints or holds that purposely restrict a person's airways or blood flow
- Ends use of warrior-style training
WALZ CALLS SPECIAL SESSION
Walz called the Legislature back for a special session starting Friday to deal with the issues surrounding Floyd’s death and the COVID-19 pandemic.
He extended his peacetime emergency Wednesday, which gives him broad powers to handle the state’s coronavirus response. Any extension required Walz to call lawmakers back to the State Capitol.