Minnesota State Police Reform

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Governor Tim Walz, 

We the people are writing you this petition today to propose sweeping reforms to our current law enforcement system that we believe can be unjust and at times inhumane, particularly to our communities of color. Our goal here is to find a new peace moving forward and not returning to the old methods that have caused our communities to feel suppressed, unheard, and ultimately at unrest. We recognize that this is an unprecedented time in Minnesota's history and we believe that this moment in time is not only of importance but also pivotal. We have an opportunity and a duty to make sweeping reform a reality and not repeat our mistakes of the past. We also recognize that the changes we are proposing are monumental, but so is our unrest. 

Our proposal: 

  • Community oversight boards - this allows our communities to work with law enforcement as well as provide oversight. We believe these boards should help guide law enforcement through difficult situations with the community as well as offer veto power to decisions that would otherwise negatively affect the community. We also believe that an independent board should be created to help with police oversight and accountability. 
  • Investments into our most impoverished communities - evidence shows that the only proven way to decrease criminal activity is to decrease poverty. We believe that curing the cause is better than treating the symptoms. 
  • Police who live within our communities - this is a privilege that rural and suburban communities have that inner city communities lack. This has caused a divide for many years, in Minneapolis particularly, and it is due time that this issue is addressed. Officers who belong to the community that they are serving are more likely to treat it as their own. We believe that this is an attainable goal that could be implemented over a set period of time. We also believe that there are many within the community who would be able and willing to protect and serve. We suggest offering police training for those who qualify within our inner city and minority communities at no cost. For many of those individuals, training and schooling is an opportunity they may never otherwise be provided. This would be an opportunity to diversify our police force with many ethnicities, skill sets, and life experiences. 
  • Expansion of community outreach programs - these programs do and should exist. We believe that they are an important part of bridging the gap between law enforcement and the citizens of their communities. 
  • Emergency response teams - instead of police response, where applicable, teams of emergency responders with specialized skill sets and training. While police officers are trained with these skills we believe that mental health workers, drug addiction counselors,  and social workers are well equipped to handle specific scenarios without the use of undue force. This will knowingly create demand for jobs in these specialized fields. Meeting that demand would be integral and we ask that again, community members be provided education and training free of charge to help aid their communities that are desperately in need. Law enforcement members could also integrate to become a part of these teams to ensure their safety and unity with law enforcement.
  • Shift funding of the police force - we recognize this is no small request. We also recognize that millions of dollars has been funneled into law enforcement every year. We believe that these budgets are overblown and could be better spent on aiding the community instead of a militarized force. Again, treating the cause instead of the symptoms. When there's less crime there will be less need. This will also allow law enforcement officers to be an integral part of these sweeping changes. 

To be clear, we are not asking for law enforcement to lose their jobs. We're asking that they be directed to positions that we believe could better serve our communities. To the contrary, we are asking for job creation that would have a positive impact on our communities. We will still need our law enforcement to protect and serve our most dire of situations.

Historically, Minnesota has proudly led the country on many fronts of change. This historic, yet devastating, moment in time is an opportunity for us to create a future where our communities are lifted up and united with those who serve to protect us. Minneapolis lost it's 3rd precinct to the outcries of civil unrest. This presents an opportunity for a new building to be erected. A building that not only houses the police force but serves as a place that the community can work together in unity with law enforcement. We're asking you, Governor, to serve the most in need in Minnesota by making these sweeping reforms your legacy.

 

 

Photo Credit: AP/John Minchillo