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Minnesota lawmakers pass plan to allow out-of-state police to respond to civil unrest

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The bill would also boost funding to state troopers who’ve been tapped to help respond to protests in the region. Senate leaders said they would also take up a resolution expressing support for the Minnesota National Guard after members were pushed out of a labor center in St. Paul.

On a 48-19 vote, lawmakers advanced the proposal, though its prospects in the Minnesota House of Representatives remained in question.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, April 16, requested the extra funding during a call with legislative leaders. He said it was necessary as state and local law enforcement groups continue responding to protests in Brooklyn Center following the death of Daunte Wright and as attorneys deliver their closing arguments in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin faces manslaughter and murder charges in the death of George Floyd.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, told reporters that all four legislative leaders voiced support for the plan during the Friday phone call. And he said it was critical that lawmakers approve the funding quickly in response to ongoing unrest.

“As we think about some of the events that have been happening, we have to come together,” Gazelka said. “And part of that, frankly, is supporting the police and the National Guard and the work they’re doing to keep our streets safe.”

Republicans in the chamber voiced support for the proposal, noting that protest demonstrations in Brooklyn Center had turned violent over the weekend.

“There are bricks and bottles and all forms of things that are being directed at the police,” Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said. “And we must recognize the difference, that this is a public safety issue and the police have an obligation to protect the people of those communities from these criminal acts.”

Protesters and journalists at the protests have also reported that law enforcement officers have used excessive force in efforts to vacate the area outside the Brooklyn Center police station.

Democrats on the Senate floor raised concerns about the state spending more money on law enforcement when the issues that spurred protest and unrest involved deaths at the hands of police. And they said bringing in additional law enforcement groups could further traumatize communities still processing the deaths of Wright, Floyd and others. They also renewed calls for the Senate to take up police accountability legislation.

“We’ve had a year to plan and in that time we have done nothing in terms of passing meaningful reform,” Sen. Omar Fateh, D-Minneapolis, said. “We could’ve invested in communities that were harmed by police brutality and damaged during civil unrest. We could’ve worked with community organizations to create a plan for keeping the peace and not squashing free speech.”

MORE ON POLICE REFORM AT THE CAPITOL:

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, said legislative leaders and the governor had yet to reach a deal on the specifics of a funding plan. In a news release, Hortman said she would bring a funding plan up for a vote in the House once leaders could determine how much law enforcement agencies needed.

“We know that some individuals took advantage of the civil unrest last year to engage in criminal activities that destroyed livelihoods and neighborhood resources, and we need sufficient law enforcement personnel to respond if individuals again seek to take advantage of any civil unrest to commit criminal acts,” Hortman said. “I will continue to work with the Governor and the Senate Majority Leader to provide emergency funding that is needed to ensure public safety.”

The proposal could face a tough path forward in the DFL-led House of Representatives. Members of that chamber earlier this year voted down a $35 million plan to fund enhanced law enforcement presence in the Twin Cities during and after Chauvin’s trial.

House Democrats from the metro area opposed the plan, saying additional police presence in Minneapolis and St. Paul could retraumatize communities grappling with Floyd’s death and the deaths of other people of color at the hands of law enforcement officers. Republicans also opposed that measure out of concerns about amendments tying funding to accountability provisions.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

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Police State

Possible Hate Crime Under Investigation By Virginia State Police

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ARLINGTON, VA — Arlington County Police are asking the public’s help in identifying a man who they say assaulted an employee at a Crystal City restaurant on Tuesday, according to a police release. Virginia State Police are also investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Officers responded around 5:45 p.m., for the report of an assault in the 500 block of 23rd Street S. A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect had left the restaurant without paying his tab. Two employees followed the man outside and asked that he return to the restaurant to settle the bill, but the the man continued walking away. When one of the employees started recording the man on a cellphone, the man shoved the other employee to the ground and the fled in the direction of Richmond Highway. The employee who was assaulted did not require medical treatment.

During their investigation, detectives from ACPD’s Homicide/Robbery Unit learned that the suspect had used racial slurs against the employees, an Asian man and woman. ACPD notified the Virginia State Police, who are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Police described the suspect as a white man, in his late 20s to early 30s. He had dark brown hair, a light brown beard, stood approximately 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 tall, and weighed between 150-160 pounds. At the time of the incident, he was wearing square rimmed glasses, headphones, a black T-shirt, gray and black sweatpants, and black sneakers.

Police ask anyone who can identify the suspect or has information about this case to contact the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or ACPDTipline@arlingtonva.us. Anonymous information may be submitted via the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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Arlington police are looking for a man they say assaulted a restaurant employee Tuesday night. (Arlington County Police Department)

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Police State

Policing with a servant’s heart: Rome police chief discusses law enforcement protocol, policies and teamwork | Local News

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Anyone looking to work in law enforcement needs to have a servant’s heart.

“I tell everyone that I like to hire someone with a servant’s heart because you have to want to help people,” said Rome Police Department Chief Denise Downer-McKinney. “Are we here to enforce the laws? Yes, but that’s just one hat. What I love about policing is that we get to wear many hats. You have to interchange those hats and you have to be able to adjust.”

You do it, foremost, because you want to help.

“If you are going to do it, you want to make sure you are doing it for the right reason,” McKinney said.

Fostering that intention has led to a desire for excellence, for Rome’s law enforcement to be above the bar in terms of excellence and service, McKinney said.

“I think we have the best. They care and they work hard,” McKinney said. “We are a very unique community and really blessed in that fashion.”

Being nationally accredited helps keep this standard of excellence in place.

Standards

The Rome Police Department is in the process of seeking national re-accreditation from the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

As part of remaining accredited the department undergoes an on-site assessment every three years. The RPD was the second agency in Georgia to become nationally accredited by the CALEA in 1986, McKinney said.

They were also the second department in Georgia to become accredited at the state level and have been since 1998.

McKinney explained that accreditation helps keep their agency accountable to the community and helps to maintain a sense of trust.

“Accreditation promotes the efficient use of resources and improvement in service delivery,” she said. “From the involvement of citizens and police working together, local officials demonstrating our commitment to excellence in leadership and resource management, to supporting and meeting the community’s needs — these standards give written objectives, training and well defined lines of authority — particularly our use of best practices.”

One example of a best practice is the department’s ban on choke holds, which has been in place for over a decade.

“Part of being accredited is that everything — every interaction and encounter — is well documented and held to the standards outlined by the stated best practices,” she said. “It covers us and it covers our citizens.”

Family

For McKinney, RPD is a family unit.

“We care about each other and about those we serve,” she said. “We want what’s best for you so that you can give your best to our community” she said.

A constant concern is that Rome’s officers are fully equipped, trained and that they have back up when they need it.

“Those are the kinds of things that keep me up at night,” she said. “I love all of my officers and care about their safety and well-being as much as I do our citizens’ safety and well-being.”

Part of that concern is a staffing shortfall.

“We are short staffed, but so is most everyone else in the United States,” she said. “I read about it all the time.”

The hiring process is strenuous, but it’s well worth taking the time to weed out the prospective officers who are not a good fit.

“My goal is to hire the best of the best because they are a reflection of the RPD and they are a reflection on me,” she said. “Our officers want us to be fully staffed as well, but they don’t want someone to come in who is going to tarnish the badge and make us look bad. When you have one bad apple, it reflects on us all.”

Teamwork

An open door policy is one of the examples of how the department works as a team.

“Our departments work well together because we support each other. One thing I’ve always said is ‘my door is open.’ I want to hear what everyone has to say and what they have to contribute. I’m always willing to listen.”

Creating a good, harmonious working environment starts from the top down, she said. What you require of your team should be no different than what you require of yourself.

“I’m constantly doing self evaluations, critiquing myself, and I try to always be informative,” she said. “I push myself in keeping all of my officers informed about everything they need to be aware of.”

Success takes having a good team, and she feels that she’s got that with the department’s command staff.

“What I am most proud of is how different organizations are able to come together and use one another as resources when in need,” she said. “That’s the part that I love about policing — the networking and gathering of connections with people that can help you and serve as a support for something that you are going through. That’s a big plus.”

Outreach

The Women’s Firearms Safety Course is one example of how the RPD helps facilitate readiness and awareness.

“There are more women that live and travel alone now, and this training provides them that sense of protection, the knowledge base for having that firearm, and the laws that coincide,” said McKinney.

Among the programs RPD facilitates, McKinney is most proud of the work they do in the Rome City school system and of the Pastoral Police Academy which she developed.

“I started out working as a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer at the elementary school level. I love working with our school system and seeing our kids grow up and develop and do wonderful things,” said McKinney.

The Explorer Program gives students the opportunity to experience what a career in law enforcement is like. It also separates the experience of real life policing from what people see on the movies or television.

“Some that we have hired were our Explorers at one point in time. This program is one that we have worked with and developed for a number of years,” she said. “Whether their interest is military, police, state patrol, or local police agencies, it is for any young person interested in working as a public servant.”

Since becoming Chief of Police in March of 2016, one program that McKinney has implemented is the Pastoral Police Academy.

“My vision has always been that we need people to reach the masses to help provide a better understanding of police work. If you are a pastor you have a unique platform to serve in a very intimate way.”

The Pastoral Police Academy is open to any interested pastors from the community.

Part of the program allows pastors to take part in a practice scenario called a ‘judgmental shooting activity.’

“You have all these things working around you and you may have a situation where you don’t know if someone is a criminal or if they are just an honest citizen,” she said.

The program stress-filled simulation she describes as three second decision making, the participant doesn’t know if the person they’re facing is innocent or trying to kill them. But it does impart a small degree of what an officer is going through in a confrontational situation.

“The last thing any of us want to do is take somebody’s life,” McKinney stressed.

McKinney recognized that policing and pastoring share a common bond.

“Both pastors and police officers are shepherding people,” McKinney said. “We come into contact with people who are heartbroken and downtrodden…We are here to serve and protect. We are here to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our citizens.”

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Police State

Federal grand jury indicts 4 former Minneapolis police officers in George Floyd’s death

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Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were also charged in connection with their failure to intervene in Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force, per the indictment. Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and the fourth officer, Thomas Lane, all face a charge for failing to give Floyd medical aid.

According to the indictment, “the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd.”

What we know about the 2017 encounter that led to Derek Chauvin's second indictment

Chauvin also was charged in a separate indictment related to an incident in which he allegedly used unreasonable force on a Minneapolis 14-year-old in September 2017, the Justice Department said in a statement Friday.

The first count of that indictment says Chauvin “held the teenager by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight,” per the DOJ statement. A second count says he “held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager even after the teenager was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting, also resulting in bodily injury.”

CNN has reached out to attorneys for all four officers for comment. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson declined to comment, as did Thomas Plunkett, an attorney representing Kueng. CNN also has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department and the city’s police union for comment.

Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, sparked protests nationwide against police brutality and racial injustice.

Bystander video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while the 46-year-old, handcuffed and lying prone in the street, gasped for air, telling the officers, “I can’t breathe.”
A juror in the Derek Chauvin trial says 'the evidence was overwhelming' against the ex-police officer
Thao, Kueng and Lane were on the scene with Chauvin. They also face state charges, including aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They have pleaded not guilty, and their joint trial is expected to be held this summer.

The three former officers appeared with their attorneys in federal court Friday via video conference, and all three were released on $25,000 bond. Chauvin, who’s awaiting sentencing on state convictions in June, remains in custody.

The new federal charges are separate from the civil investigation into Minneapolis policing practices announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland last month, the Justice Department said Friday.

The attorneys representing Floyd’s family said in a statement that they are “encouraged by these charges and eager to see continued justice in this historic case that will impact Black citizens and all Americans for generations to come.”

The statement from civil rights attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, and L. Chris Stewart said, “the additional indictment of Derek Chauvin shows a pattern and practice of behavior.”

Stewart told CNN’s Pamela Brown during an interview Friday that they spoke with Garland after the indictments and shared how the family reacted.

“It was emotional,” Stewart said. “They are ecstatic about it. We actually talked to Attorney General Garland today, and I have not heard such passion or sympathy and intention from an attorney general in a very long time. First thing he started with, he said that no one is above the law and that meant a lot.”

Stewart added, “He just expressed his sympathy, and you could hear the intention in his voice and the determination to get the family justice. It meant a lot. We were very honored that he did that.”

Derek Chauvin's attorney files motion for new trial

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the state’s prosecution against Chauvin, called the charges “entirely appropriate,” saying the federal government had a “responsibility to protect the civil rights of every American and to pursue justice to the fullest extent of federal law.”

News of the indictments was celebrated by civil rights leaders and activists like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, who said in a statement the charges show “we have a Justice Department that deals with police criminality and does not excuse it.”

“For many years we have tried to get the federal government to make it clear that these crimes are not only state crimes but violate civil rights on a federal level when police engage in this kind of behavior,” the statement said. “What we couldn’t get them to do in the case of Eric Garner, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and countless others, we are finally seeing them do today and this is a significant development for those of us who have been engaged in the struggle and police reform movement.”

Asked about the indictments Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said they and the Chauvin verdict were reminders that “there’s still more that needs to be done.”

“While that was a moment of justice, certainly, that it is just the beginning,” Psaki said. “And it’s a reminder of the need to put police reform in place through our legislative process and put those reforms in place across the country.”

CNN’s Omar Jimenez, Christina Carrega, Dan Berman, Josh Campbell, Anna-Maja Rappard, Dave Alsup, Paul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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