The changes include new background investigation requirements, a definition of discriminatory conduct, new minimal selection standards, and more.
The Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board has adopted new rules regarding background investigations, minimum selection standards, standards of conduct, and required policies. The new rules take effect May 30, 2023. The following are highlights of the important changes.
Background investigation requirements
A background investigation is now required for all new hires, including already licensed officers. It cannot be conducted by anyone involved in the candidate selection process. Background investigations are valid for six months after completed. If the applicant is not hired within six months, the background must be updated. The agency must retain the background investigation for the entire employment if hired, or for six years or per agency policy (whichever is longer) if the applicant is not hired.
There are new requirements for the background investigation, some of which include:
- U.S. citizenship status or verification of eligibility to work in the U.S.
- Use of alcohol, controlled substances, and intoxicating substances.
- Any discriminatory conduct.
- Social media accounts (applicant must consent to and disclose accounts but this does not include the applicant’s login information).
- List of all law enforcement agencies applicant has applied to in the past six years.
- Applicant must authorize release of personnel data to law enforcement agency and POST Board.
- Applicant, the local prosecuting authority, and law enforcement agencies in any jurisdiction the applicant was a peace officer must disclose any conduct that resulted in a Brady-Giglio disclosure by a prosecuting authority.
There is an exception for seasonal or temporary hires that are currently employed as a peace officer in another jurisdiction, if verified in writing by that agency.
Definition of discriminatory conduct
The new rules define discriminatory conduct as “a pattern of conduct or a single egregious act that evidences knowing and intentional discrimination based on the actor’s perception of a person’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or public assistance or any other protected class as defined by Minnesota Statutes or federal law; and would lead an objectively reasonable person to doubt the actor’s ability to perform the duties of a peace officer in a fair and impartial manner. Membership in a religious organization as a lawful exercise of the freedom of religion is not discriminatory conduct.”
Chief law enforcement officer (CLEO)
The CLEO must notify the POST Board within 10 days after either:
- A background investigation is initiated, giving applicant’s name, date of birth, and peace officer license number.
- Or a background investigation identifies:
- Disqualification under any of the minimum standards, even if the officer is exempt.
- Any conduct that would be a violation of the standards of conduct.
Minimum selection standards
The rules also address new additional minimum selection standards. Some of the new additions include the applicant:
- Must be a citizen of the U.S or eligible to work in the U.S.
- Be free of discriminatory conduct.
- Not have been convicted of a felony in another jurisdiction or registered as a predatory offender.
- Have no record of conduct with a hate or extremist group or a criminal gang.
- Passed a psychological screening.
- Completed training equivalent or exceeding the requirements for EMS registration or to be completed within the first six months of employment.
The new requirements are not required for officer conduct that occurred before June 1, 2023, or unlicensed applicants who are enrolled in professional peace officer education programs prior to Jan. 1, 2023, and complete the program and pass licensing exam before Dec. 31, 2023. To see the full list of minimum selection standards visit the POST Board website.
Definition of hate or extremist group
The rules define hate or extremist group as “a group that, as demonstrated by its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders or members, or its activities:
- Promotes the use of threats, force, violence, or criminal activity:
- Against a local, state, or federal entity, or the officials of such an entity.
- To deprive, or attempt to deprive, individuals of their civil rights under the Minnesota Constitution or the U.S. Constitution.
- To achieve goals that are political, religious, discriminatory, or ideological in nature;
- Promotes seditious activities.
- Advocates for differences in the right to vote, speak, assemble, travel, or maintain citizenship based on a person’s perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, public assistance status, or any protected class under state or federal law.”
Standards of conduct
The rules include new violations of the standards of conduct. If an officer violates any of the following, they are subject to discipline by the POST Board. The new violations added include:
- Engaging in any of the criminal conduct listed in the minimum standards, regardless of whether or not criminal charges occurred.
- Engaging in discriminatory conduct.
- Joining, supporting, advocating for, maintaining membership in, or participating in the activities of a hate or extremist group or criminal gang.
- Intentionally mishandling evidence or property, making undisclosed or improper inducements to witnesses or suspects; or gaining unauthorized access to or unlawfully misuse government data.
- Regarding the use of force: engaging in unreasonable or excessive use of force, unauthorized use of force, or unauthorized use of deadly force.
Conduct that occurred before June 1, 2023, is subject to standards of conduct in effect at the time the conduct occurred. To see the full list of the standards of conduct visit the POST Board website.
The new rule requires a pre-employment psychological screening by a licensed psychologist after a conditional job offer. There are certain requirements for the screening such as an evaluation of the applicant’s history of discriminatory conduct. All the requirements can be found in the rule. These screenings are valid for one year. They must be retained for the duration of employment if hired, or six years, or as required by agency policy (whichever is longer) if not hired. A screening is not required for seasonal or temporary hires who remain currently employed as a peace officer in another Minnesota agency.
Required agency policies
The chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) must ensure the agency adopts, implements, and enforces the POST Board’s required policies. The policy provisions must be identical or substantially similar to the Board’s model policies. The agency may incorporate additional or more stringent policies. The policy and training compliance form provided by the Board must be completed and submitted to the POST Board each year by March 1. A full list and copy of the required policies can be found on the POST Board’s website.