Focus on New Laws: National Night Out Expenditures and Fundraising

Cities now have explicit, yet limited, authority to fund events fostering positive relationships between the community and police.
(Published Jul 3, 2017)

A new law authorizes cities to expend and raise funds on a limited basis for events that foster positive relationships between law enforcement and the community. Chapter 26 was signed into law by Gov. Dayton on May 2 and took effect on May 3.

National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign, promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer and more connected. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all 50 states. Neighborhoods commonly host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and more.

Cities previously couldn't fund National Night Out events
Historically, Minnesota cities have not had explicit authority to spend money or fundraise for National Night Out and other similar events. But during the 2017 legislative session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill making it legal for cities to raise and spend money for the specific purpose of funding an event within city limits meant to foster positive relationships between police departments and the community.

This new law, codified as Minnesota Statutes, section 471.198, allows cities to not only spend money on these events, but also provides the unprecedented and very limited authority to solicit funds for these events, as long as the council clearly gives that direction by resolution and the events would foster positive relationships between law enforcement and the community.

Next steps for cities
Cities do not need to proactively do anything before spending public dollars for holding National Night Out events or other similar events. Before soliciting funds to hold or sponsor these events, the city council must adopt a resolution authorizing officials and staff to solicit contributions for the purposes of funding a National Night Out or similar event in their community.

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