ST PAUL, Minn. — Governor Tim Walz didn't wait for state lawmakers to finalize a new public safety bill before taking executive action to fund community violence prevention and increase police transparency.
Among the items included in Monday's executive action:
Investing $15 million in community violence prevention grants
Walz is directing the money, drawn from the American Rescue Plan flexible fund, to pay for community violence intervention, fund survivor support grants, and promote innovation in community safety grants. In a Monday release, the governor said he believes the funding will fill critical gaps in Minnesota's public safety response, especially when it comes to people of color.
Enacting policy changes to state video footage
Walz is directing law enforcement agencies within state government to change their policies to allow families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a encounter with police to view video of the incident within five days time. The agencies impacted include:
- Minnesota State Patrol
- Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
- Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement
- Department of Natural Resources Enforcement
- Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit
Increasing transparency and accountability of the POST Board
The Walz administration said it will work to identify the type and quantity of policing data collected by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, and organize it on a website dashboard that members of the public can easily access. The POST Board recently completed a thorough audit in 2020, and has been ordered to reform a number of processes, and the change the way officers are trained, licensed and held accountable.
“Right now, we have an opportunity to create safer communities for all Minnesotans by building a public safety system focused on transparency, accountability, and violence prevention,” Walz said in the press release. “These policy changes and increased investments in safety - together with the Minnesota Police Accountability Act signed into law last summer and the bipartisan public safety plan this legislative session - get us closer to a system of public safety that truly protects all Minnesotans.”
Democratic and Republican leaders reached agreement on the structure of a public safety bill that is expected to pass the full legislature in coming days. It will likely include restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants, boost mental health response during crisis calls, and change current law on when and how civil assets are forfeited by people when they are arrested.