MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton has created a new community policing council to create recommendations for the legislature to vote on.
This comes after the high profile police shooting deaths of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile.
The task force is drawing fire from Minneapolis Police Union President Bob Kroll. Lt. Kroll is accusing the governor of politicizing police shootings of African Americans.
Minnesota’s two biggest police departments, St. Paul and Minneapolis, told WCCO the governor did not consult them before announcing the task force.
At the same time, the governor repeatedly stated his support for law enforcement, emphasizing how difficult officers’ jobs are.
Dayton says the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis in November 2015 and the shooting of Philando Castile by St. Anthony police in July of 2016 drove his decision.
“Those two tragedies are two important reasons that this council has come into existence,” Dayton said.
Castile’s mother and uncle were at the governor’s announcement. The Castile shooting is still under investigation. Minneapolis police officers have been cleared in Clark’s death.
The task force chairs are Chief Scott Johnson of the Grand Rapids Police Department and veteran Hennepin County District Court Judge Pam Alexander.
“The community that I come from, there’s a lot of people who are living in fear and I want that fear to go away,” Alexander said.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau says she hopes the council’s members will reach out to her department because even before Clark’s shooting, Minneapolis police have focused on community outreach.
“I was surprised. I wasn’t aware that this was going to happen,” Harteau said. “I would think the first place this group would come talk to would be us, because frankly we are not only leading the state but we are leading the nation in a lot of initiatives in this area.”
The creation of the task force is drawing fire from Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Union.
“It’s more political pandering to basically 1 percent of the population of the state of Minnesota,” Kroll said. “It’s overkill. I’d like to know how much in tax dollars it’s going to cost the citizens of our state.”
A spokesperson for Dayton said the task force will not cost taxpayers any money because most members are already on state and local payrolls.
The spokesperson added other expenses may be covered by foundation grants and private donations.