How much do you know about the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board? There is often confusion about this state agency, which actually plays an important role in making sure that law enforcement agencies— including city police departments—have officers who are well-trained and fully qualified for the job. Cities need to understand the requirements of the POST Board and make sure they are in compliance with them. Minnesota Cities recently talked with POST Board Executive Director Nathan Gove for a primer on the agency.
Minnesota Cities: What is the function of the POST Board, and where does it get its authority?
Nathan Gove: The mission of the POST Board is to regulate and promote the profession of law enforcement across the state of Minnesota through the adoption, regulation, and enforcement of education, selection, licensing, and training standards. Created by statute in 1977, the authority for the POST Board is found in two areas of the Minnesota Statutes— section 626.845, which outlines the board’s powers and duties; and chapter 214, which governs examination and licensing boards. In addition, the board’s administrative rules are outlined in Minnesota Rules, chapter 6700. As an independent state agency, the board receives some administrative support (specifically finance, IT, and human resources) from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
MC: How is the POST Board funded?
NG: The law directs the state treasurer to allocate 39 percent of the surcharges on certain criminal and traffic offenses to the peace officer training account, and the POST Board is funded by that special revenue account. This surcharge has grown over the years to $78; however, the training account’s share is based on the original $25 surcharge. License and testing fees received by POST are deposited into the state’s general fund. The current POST Board budget for fiscal year 2016 is $4.3 million. Approximately 75 percent of this appropriated amount is reimbursed to local units of government to help offset the costs of law enforcement training. The per-officer share for fiscal year 2015 was $333.18.
MC: Do other states have POST Boards?
NG: Yes. All states have some kind of board or commission that oversees peace officer training and certification. In most other states, people wanting to become a peace officer typically must be hired by a law enforcement agency, which is responsible for paying the costs associated with the basic training. This is not the case in Minnesota, where the costs associated with the education and training requirements are the sole responsibility of the potential officer.
MC: Who serves on the POST Board?
NG: POST has a 15-member board. Of these members, 14 are appointed by Minnesota’s governor to staggered four-year terms. The remaining member is the superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The other individual seats represent the following: two public members; two police chiefs; two county sheriffs; four peace officers (one of whom is a Minnesota state trooper); two former peace officers who are currently employed by a college or university that offers a professional peace officer education program; one administrator from a college or university that offers a professional peace officer education program; and one elected city official from a city with a population under 5,000 outside the metro area. A board chair is appointed by the governor from these members.
MC: How many staff members do you have, and what is their role?
NG: The board currently has 10 staff members: an executive director appointed by the board, four administrative support staff members, and five professional-level coordinators who are responsible for standards and compliance review, pre-service education, continuing education, testing, and licensing. The coordinators also administer a program that reimburses local governments for part of their peace officer continuing education costs. The administrative support staff members assist coordinators with these processes, which involve the state’s approximately 12,000 licensed peace officers and 441 law enforcement agencies.
MC: What are the POST requirements for law enforcement agencies?
NG: POST Board requirements for agencies center on three main areas: policies, training, and minimum selection standards.
There are 12 legislatively mandated policies: (1) Use of Force/Firearms; (2) Vehicle Pursuit and Emergency Vehicle Operations; (3) Allegations of Misconduct; (4) Professional Conduct of Officers; (5) Response to Reports of Missing & Endangered Persons; (6) Domestic Abuse Response; (7) Predatory Offender Registration and Community Notification; (8) Criminal Conduct on School Buses; (9) Supervision of Part-Time Licensed Peace Officers; (10) Lighting Exemption of Law Enforcement Vehicles; (11) Avoiding Racial Profiling; (12) Procession of Property Seized for Administrative Forfeiture. Model policies are available on the POST Board website at www.post.state.mn.us (click on Model Policies).
Training for officers is mandated in the following areas:
Minimum selection standards ensure the candidate for a peace officer position meets the standards set by the POST Board (Minnesota Rules, 6700.0700). Law enforcement agencies must maintain documentation to show compliance with these hiring standards. Examples of documentation include a thorough background investigation, psychological screening, and a job-related physical fitness exam.
MC: What are the consequences for non-compliance by law enforcement agencies?
NG: Disciplinary actions can be taken against the chief law enforcement officer’s license by the board’s complaint committee for non-compliance. A range of sanctions are available to the committee, from a corrective action plan to suspension of the chief law enforcement officer’s license.
MC: What are the POST requirements for peace officers?
NG: Licensing itself only occurs when eligible candidates are appointed to a peace officer position and certain selection standards are met. Licensing is a cooperative process between the POST Board, the hiring agency, and the candidate. Peace officers must have 48 hours of continuing education during every three-year licensing cycle. The cost of the license renewal is $90. Minnesota requires every officer to have at a minimum a post-secondary two-year degree. Peace officers must also receive annual training in use of force and firearms. In addition, officers must receive at least eight hours of classroom and skills-based training every five years in emergency vehicle operations and conducting police pursuits.
MC: Are there different levels of licensure for Minnesota peace officers?
NG: Historically, the board issued both peace officer and part-time peace officer licenses. These licenses had differing educational and training requirements, yet they both allowed full policepowers. A legislative change effective June 30, 2014, grandfathered in existing part-time licensed officers and ended the issuance of any new part-time licenses by the board. Currently there are 159 part-time licensed peace officers in Minnesota.
MC: What are the consequences for non-compliance by peace officers?
NG: The board has a variety of sanctions at its disposal, from a corrective action plan to revocation/suspension of the license.
MC: Does the POST Board do investigations of peace officer misconduct?
NG: It does, but only if the alleged misconduct falls within the board’s jurisdiction. The POST Board’s authority to impose discipline on an officer is limited by Minnesota Statutes, sections 626.8431 and 626.8432. These statutes provide that the POST Board may take action against the license of a peace officer who has: (1) been convicted of a felony; (2) obtained a license by fraud or misrepresentation; (3) failed to meet licensure requirements; or (4) committed a violation of the standards of conduct set forth in Minnesota Rules, 6700.1600.
MC: How does the POST Board find out about non-compliance of agencies?
NG: Most often through on-site agency compliance reviews. From time to time, the board also receives written complaints of non-compliance.
MC: What are the most frequent compliance problems?
NG: Failure to meet legislatively mandated training requirements concerning use of force (defensive tactics), firearms, and pursuit/emergency vehicle operations.
MC: Does the POST Board provide assistance to peace officers and/or law enforcement agencies to help them meet requirements?
NG: Yes. The POST Board staff regularly serves as a resource to stakeholders involved in the law enforcement profession, and we provide ongoing training to chief law enforcement officers on POST rules. In addition, our recently updated Administrator’s Manual is an excellent source of information for both officers and law enforcement agencies on licensing, relicensing, education, and ongoing training requirements. (To access the manual, go to www.post.state.mn.us and click on Learning Objectives on the left.) POST also provides on-site agency reviews upon request for new sheriffs and chiefs to assist their departments in identifying and correcting gaps in selection standards, training requirements, and mandated department policies.
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