Jen Kochaver, Staff Writer
Minnesota Police have raised their conduct standards for the first time since 1995. As of Jan. 25, police officers in the state of Minnesota will face a state licensing hearing if convicted for fifth-degree assault, fourth-degree drunk driving and domestic assault misdemeanors.
Previously, there have been no job-related consequences in the case of any of these violations for Minnesota Police Officers. This decision was made via unanimous vote by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), a committee which oversees and licenses all Minnesota police departments and our approximately 10,075 police officers. The state of Minnesota already issues automatic revocation for felonies and theft charges; all of the new additions are misdemeanors.
This change will not be enforced retroactively, meaning all police officers who have been convicted of these crimes in the past will not be subject to a licensing hearing. Proponents of the change find it insignificant. In the scope of reform they feel is necessary in order to address police brutality and misconduct in the United States. They also feel that the rules in place previous to this change were hardly enforced.
“So, adding three new things that you look at and never discipline on are simply window dressing, and not what people have been asking of the POST Board,” said Dave Bicking, member of the group “Communities United Against Police Brutality” for KSTP 5 Eyewitness News.
Supporters find this to be an obvious and needed change to keep expectations for officers in our state consistent. The changes will be implemented throughout the next 18 months.
Before this decision, being charged with any of these three specific misdemeanors made one ineligible to become a police officer in Minnesota. But the misdemeanors had no effect on employment if an individual was already a licensed police officer previous to the offense.
Currently, as a state, we have one of the lowest police license revocation rates in the country. This change marks the first in police conduct standards in over two decades, and many believe that the need for reform was largely brought to light through the reporting of the “Star Tribune” which ran a series in Oct. 2017 exposing a number of instances in which Minnesota police officers had been charged with violent assault yet remained in their roles as law enforcement.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 9, 2018, Edition of The Echo.