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Minnesota House considers sweeping police reform bills

Tom Hauser
Updated: June 15, 2020 10:51 PM
Created: June 15, 2020 06:42 PM

The Minnesota House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee debated a sweeping series of police accountability bills on Monday with the aim of votes on the House floor later this week.

"This is what I'm hearing, that there's a common ground to make sure that we have good, solid police officer behavior relative to this issue of the use of deadly force," committee chair Rep. Carlos Mariani, (DFL-St. Paul), said during the hearing.

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The House DFL is seeking passage of 20 measures aimed at reining in police use of force in the aftermath of the George Floyd death on May 25. They include banning choke holds and other neck restraints, prohibiting "warrior training" for officers and mandating a "duty to intercede" for officers who witness unreasonable use of force by fellow officers.

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"The reforms here in front of us and in the next two bills are long, long overdue," said Rep. Dave Pinto, (DFL-St. Paul). "And many of us have been working on this for a number of years and because people have been pushing and pushing, we have this opportunity to make sure that every single person in our state can feel safe and be protected and receive equal treatment under the law."

Some of the measures received bipartisan support, but at least one Republican lawmaker with a law enforcement background questioned whether the bills go too far.

"This isn't a law enforcement problem," said Rep. Brian Johnson, (R-Cambridge). This is a Minneapolis City Council and mayor problem not dealing with their department and a lack of supervision amongst their department. This has been going on for decades. It's unfortunate we have to go after everybody when there's one bad apple."

The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate will hear a series of similar bills on Tuesday morning, but don't plan to go as far as the Democrat-controlled House.


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