House Bill Would Make Significant Changes to Policing

February 14, 2022

The package establishes the Office of Public Safety Innovation, provides for grants, and creates new policies related to the oversight of peace officers and law enforcement agencies.

A bill containing dozens of provisions aimed at reducing crime and increasing police accountability has had three hearings in the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee.

The measure, HF 2724 (Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope), would create a new Office of Public Safety Innovation within the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) to “ . . . direct a targeted, community-centered response to violence.”

Additional provisions

The bill would also:

  • Provide funding for several grants, including:
    • $40 million for grants administered by the Office of Public Safety Innovation.
    • $22 million for grants to expand the use of foot patrols.
    • $22 million for grants to improve clearance rates for homicides and nonfatal shootings.
    • $2.5 million for grants to match local funds for portable recording systems.
  • Make several changes to policies related to body cameras, including a requirement that when body cameras are being used, they must be activated during all contacts with citizens.
  • Authorize the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board to take action on a peace officer’s license for criminal conduct that does not result in a conviction.
  • Authorize local units of government to establish civilian oversight councils and give an oversight council the authority to make findings of fact and impose discipline on officers.
  • Establish a task force to increase recruitment of new peace officers, increase the diversity of the racial makeup and professional background of licensed peace officers, promote education and training in community policing models, maintain the high standards of education and training required for licensure, and make policy and funding recommendations to the Legislature.
  • Provide $450,000 to the POST Board for four investigators to perform compliance reviews and investigate alleged code of conduct violations.
  • Appropriate $50,000 to the POST Board to provide support for the task force on alternative courses to peace officer licensure.

Testifiers express mixed reactions

The bill was met with opposition by law enforcement groups. The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and Minnesota Sheriffs Association issued a joint letter of opposition and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association submitted a letter of opposition objecting to several provisions in the bill. Both raised concerns about proposed new policies and mandates that would potentially make law enforcement more difficult.

The League submitted a letter for the record on the bill. It expressed support for provisions that bolster community-based efforts designed to enhance community safety and wellness, as well as for homelessness assistance programs, but expressed concerns about other provisions, including those related to body cameras and civilian oversight councils.

The bill was laid over for further consideration. The author, Rep. Frazier, said he intends to work with stakeholders on controversial provisions before the bill advances. The bill does not yet have a Senate companion.

Read the House Research Summary of HF 2724 (pdf)

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