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Minnesota lawmakers pass historic Police Reform bill

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers passed a historic bill overnight reforming police departments.

The bill contains 15 provisions, meaning that lawmakers reached a compromise on the reform package.

The starting point was a common ground with four provisions, which the Minnesota Senate passed in the last special session. While the House also wanted those four provisions, lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled chamber also wanted dozens of more reforms.

The compromise reached early Tuesday morning includes the following:

— a ban on chokeholds and “warrior-style” training,
— additional training on autism, crisis intervention and cultural bias,
— resources for managing stress,
— a duty to intervene when an officer sees a colleague acting inappropriately,
— incentives for officers to live in the communities they serve,
— and changes to arbitration, making the process more accountable to the public with via a panel of six appointed community members whose terms will expire.

The House passed the reform package just before midnight. The Senate passed it at 2 a.m. Lawmakers on both sides of the isle say that this is just the beginning.

“The conversation cannot and will not end here with the passage of this bill, because there is a lot of work that will be required to protect Black bodies,” Sen. Jeff Hayden, the assistant Senate minority leader, said.

According to Hayden, the bill the passed overnight lacks the critical language for penalties for bad actors, so this will be something may follow in the regular session.

The leader of the Republican-controlled Senate, Sen. Paul Gazelka, said that more reforms will come during the next session.

“These [provisions] need to be vetted in a hearing in a regular session where we can have a lot more voices,” he said. “That was something we all wanted, but we sensed the urgency of doing something now.”

This police reform package comes less than two months after the killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Cellphone video of the fatal arrest showed ex-officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

The video sparked protests and riots in Minneapolis and across the country. The outage led to calls for police accountability and reform, as well as initiatives to defund and dismantle police departments.

What Minnesota lawmakers have yet to agree on during the special session is a $1.9 billion bonding bill for construction projects and jobs.

Bonding bills require a three-fifths majority to pass both chambers, but it must pass in the House first. Republicans in the House said that they wouldn’t vote for the bonding bill as it stood Monday.

Jenna Wells

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