Marion O'Neill column logo MT

Our latest special session ended early Tuesday morning, after we passed a bill containing new public safety provisions agreed to by the House and Senate majorities in the wake of the death of George Floyd. This bill is a compromise, and does not include the controversial proposals that we have seen in previous versions of this bill.

Having sat through many, many hours of hearings on nearly all of these provisions, I voted yes for the bill. It included things like a ban on chokeholds, ending police training that dehumanizes criminals, focusing instead on their civil rights,  and implementing a duty to intercede and report misconduct and unlawful use of force by police officers, so that we can stop these tragedies from happening in the first place.

The bill also included additional provisions, including adding two citizen members to the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board to give their input and advice on police training requirements, as well as creating a unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to investigate all officer-involved deaths. Currently, the BCA investigates officer-involved shootings, and this provision would create a new unit specifically in response to officer-involved deaths.

I am glad we could get this bill done and address some of the issues that came to light after the tragic events of the past few months. I believe this bill strikes the right balance of both respecting the work of the police and the individual officers, and also holding those accountable who cross the line and abuse their power. My hope is that this bill will make a real impact, and that we will continue to improve how police interact with their communities going forward.

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