Updated: June 28, 2021 09:52 PM
Created: June 28, 2021 02:45 PM
Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday he will take executive action on some community safety and police reform measures.
The announcement comes as the Minnesota House and Senate prepare to vote on a bipartisan public safety plan.
The bill draft includes provisions regulating the use of no-knock warrants and a police misconduct database to create an early warning system to keep certain officers off the streets. It's been one of the most contentious pieces of budget negotiations among lawmakers who are up against a Wednesday deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
Many DFL lawmakers blame the GOP-controlled Senate for standing in the way of comprehensive police reform.
"They said they would put police accountability in this bill, police reform in this bill, they have not done so," Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, said. "This agreement that we have now does not nearly include what we need to make sure all Minnesotans are gonna be safe."
Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, said House DFLers will offer many several police reform amendments, including one prohibiting "pre-textual" traffic stops for things like expired license tabs.
"The Senate has not been able to even hold hearings," she said at a news conference called by the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus. "They have refused to hold hearings on these things. They have refused to listen to the public."
GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said it's a budget year so many policy issues didn't get hearings.
"It's my expectation the House will pass the bill," Gazelka said. "It's been agreed to by the (House) leadership and it's their job to pass the bill on their side and we need to pass it on our side."
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, also said Walz deserves some blame.
"All we've been getting from the governor's office is lip service," Thompson said."There was no police accountability measures in this bill. You have the authority to veto this bill and say no. Show some testicular fortitude!"
Walz had a measured response.
"John Thompson's best friend was Philando Castile who was shot in front of his child," the governor noted. "John has a position and a point on this that I don't have that life experience. I listen to him when he talks. I know he's frustrated."
Walz said the executive action he plans to take includes investing $15 million in community violence prevention grants, increasing transparency and accountability of the Minnesota Police Officer Standards and Training Board and enacting policy changes to state law enforcement video — including the implementation of body-worn camera policies that comply with state law as well as allowing the families of those who have died "in a deadly force encounter with police" to view video of the incident within five days.
"Right now, we have an opportunity to create safer communities for all Minnesotans by building a public safety system focused on transparency, accountability, and violence prevention," Walz said in a statement. "These policy changes and increased investments in safety — together with the Minnesota Police Accountability Act signed into law last summer and the bipartisan public safety plan this legislative session — get us closer to a system of public safety that truly protects all Minnesotans."
Walz noted concerns of the POCI Caucus that more needs to be done, but that he thinks the proposed plan is as much as the Senate would be willing to agree to this session.
About criticism of compromise public safety/police reform agreement by many members of POCI Caucus, Gov. Tim Walz says, “I agree with them. It isn’t enough.” However, he says he’s convinced it’s as much as they can get from GOP Senate this session. pic.twitter.com/RDDTSJzWZL— Tom Hauser (@thauserkstp) June 28, 2021
“I’m grateful for the governor taking action,” said Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis.
Noor is part of the POCI Caucus and specifically appreciates Walz’s decision to speed up the time body-camera footage can be released to families.
“It can be done for the respect and dignity of those who have lost their lives and actually giving closure to the families so they can see for themselves,” Noor added.
Watch the POCI Caucus press conference on public safety accountability and POST Board actions via the player below.
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