More From This Year’s Minnesota Police Reform Law

Two weeks ago, we discussed the arbitration portion of Minnesota’s police law reforms that resulted from the latest legislative session.  This week, we wanted to bring the rest of the changes from the act to you, and discuss how they might impact different departments within your organization.

First, the legislature added laws pertaining to the data related to critical incident stress management and peer counseling for officers involved in critical incidents.  The law created by the legislature pertaining to those programs makes data collected and shared during those meetings or sessions not subject to disclosure, with certain exceptions.  Data from those sessions may be disclosed if:

  • Disclosure is necessary to prevent self-harm or harm of another;
  • The information is required to be reported, such as mistreatment of children or vulnerable adults;
  • The counselor receives written consent;
  • The person who received counseling dies and the surviving spouse gives consent;
  • The emergency service provider who received counseling testifies, necessitating the peer support counselor’s testimony.

Aside from the data practices issues, the legislature created an independent use of force investigations unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to conduct officer-involved death investigations, as well as all criminal sexual conduct cases and conflict of interest cases involving peace officers.  The act makes it necessary for officer-involved deaths to be investigated by this unit and requires the BCA superintendent to put all public data related to inactive investigations on the BCA’s website.

One of the biggest changes of the act was to modify the reasonable use of force statute for officers.  The law now restricts the use of choke holds, tying a person’s limbs together, and transporting individuals face down in a vehicle.  Furthermore, the standard for the lawful use of deadly force is no longer “when necessary.”  Rather, a new “objectively reasonable officer” standard has been created, where an officer must be able to show that the threat that led to the use of force:

  • Can be articulated with specificity by the law enforcement officer;
  • Is reasonably likely to occur absent action by the law enforcement officer; and
  • Must be addressed through the use of deadly force without unreasonable delay; or
  • The officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm to another.

Officers are barred from using deadly force against a person if the person only poses a danger to him or herself.  While these standards are not necessarily going to impact on employment decisions for employers, they will have an impact on the continuous training officers receive and the standards taught to law enforcement officers.

Departments are also prohibited from providing officers with “warrior-style training” that dehumanizes people and encourages aggressive conduct.  By September 2020, the POST board is to adopt an updated comprehensive written model policy on the use of force, including deadly force by peace officers, and every department in the state must update their policy to be substantially similar to the POST model policy.

We will keep our eyes peeled for any upcoming changes to the POST training requirements, and be available to guide you through any changes required for your law enforcement officers.  It is important for every department to modify its training regimen for its officers, and the Wiley Law Office is here with up to date employee training experience that works.