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Minnesota police standards board making changes to increase accountability, governor says

Gov. Tim Walz said the board is working to standardize how police respond to protests, and making rules about affiliations with extremist groups.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says the state's board that manages police training and sets standards for officers is making changes to increase accountability after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in George Floyd's death

Walz announced Friday that the Police Officer Standards and Training Board is working to "create uniform standards in how law enforcement responds to protests and prohibiting peace officers from affiliating with extremist organizations." The changes come a day after the governor sent a letter urging the board to take action to increase transparency following Chauvin's conviction. 

A jury found the former Minneapolis officer guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death Tuesday, marking only the second time that a police officer has been convicted of murder in Minnesota. It's also the first time such a conviction has been won against a white officer who killed a Black man.

"Minnesota cannot let this moment pass without taking immediate action to increase accountability and trust in policing," Walz said Friday. "I asked the POST Board to take bold action on police reform, and they made critical changes. I'm proud of the steps they have taken to raise the bar for police accountability in Minnesota."

In the governor's letter, Walz requested that the board support a proposal that bans police officers from any involvement in extremist organizations, and adopt more comprehensive data collection for complaints and discipline. He also asked that the board create a "First Amendment standard," which the governor said would establish "sound practices and accountability for law enforcement response to demonstrations." 

After Chauvin's guilty verdict, many community organizations in the state have called on leaders to move beyond lip service and take action on issues within the policing system in Minnesota. 

RELATED: Minneapolis community leaders call for DOJ to expand police probe after Chauvin verdict

Several groups recently demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Minneapolis' policing practices be expanded to include other neighboring departments in the Twin Cities. They also asked that the Justice Department reopen all cases of those who have killed by police in Minnesota.

Many continue to keep their attention on another police killing that took place earlier this month, just 10 miles away from where Chauvin was standing trial. Community organizers on Friday called on Walz to appoint a special prosecutor in the the case of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop on April 11. 

RELATED: Community organizations call for special prosecutor in Daunte Wright's death

The attorney for Washington County is currently prosecuting former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter in Wright's death. Potter is facing a second-degree manslaughter charge. Wright's family and some community members have called for more serious charges against the former officer.

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