Minnesota’s top police licensing authority plans to upgrade the professional standards for law enforcement officers amid fallout from a Minneapolis Star Tribune series on police misconduct, the Star Tribune reports. In a vote Wednesday morning, the standards committee of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board recommended adding three misdemeanors to the list of crimes that trigger state review and potential discipline: fifth-degree assault, fourth-degree drunken driving and domestic assault. The full POST Board is expected to approve the changes this month in what would be the first expansion of Minnesota’s standards of conduct for police officers in more than two decades. The independent regulatory body licenses the 10,750 sworn officers on the job in Minnesota.
Andy Skoogman, head of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, called the changes overdue, and “a really strong step forward.” A community activist characterized them as incremental. Dave Bicking, of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said the three new misdemeanors fall far short of what’s needed to address police misconduct on the job. He noted that prosecutors rarely bring criminal charges against officers for behavior on the job. “They are only talking about taking action when an officer is convicted of a crime,” Bicking said. The head of Minnesota’s largest association of rank-and-file officers told the committee that his group does not support the changes. Dave Metusalem of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said he sees no need for the state to intervene in local employment matters. Wednesday’s actions were prompted by “Shielded by the Badge,” a Star Tribune series published last October, which found that several hundred officers across the state have been convicted of serious crimes such as assault in the past two decades without ever facing discipline by the state licensing body. More than 140 of them remain on the job.