Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a police accountability bill Thursday in response to the protests over the killing of George Floyd.
House Bill No.1 included five main provisions: clearly defining when police are justified in using deadly force, providing the attorney general’s office the power to prosecute law enforcement officers involved in civilian deaths, eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors, establishing an Independent Use of Force Investigations Unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate officer caused civilian deaths, and requiring an officer who takes a child into custody to consult a juvenile secure detention facility in order to determine whether the child should remain in custody or be released.
The Minnesota Police Accountability Act also created a Law Enforcement Oversight Board, which is composed of the Police-Community Relations Council and Local Citizens Oversight Councils for Law Enforcement Agencies. These councils are responsible for making recommendations on police-community relations and making policy and disciplinary recommendations on police misconduct complaints. The Law Enforcement Oversight Board is also responsible for maintaining a database of civilian complaints against police officers.
The act limits the type of restraints police officers can use, including chokeholds and securing an individual in a way that results in them being transported face down. It also places a significant amount of accountability on chief law enforcement officers by requiring them to report when an officer is terminated, resigns or is suspended due to misconduct to the Peace Officer Standard and Training Board. Lastly, the act requires a police officer to intercede when another officer is using unjustified deadly force.
In response to signing this bill, Walz stated, “this bipartisan bill follows decades of advocacy by communities of color. And it is a good first step. These are long-overdue changes, but they do not end the conversation we’re having about police accountability.”
The modifications made by this bill will soon be implemented in all Minnesota police departments.