MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new bill at the state capitol aims to get more members of law enforcement to live where they work.
The bill’s author said she has been discussing possible new laws with organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The group has protested at the Mall of America and shut down part of I-35 in efforts to bring attention to matters of police brutality and racial profiling.
Rep. Rena Moran, D-St. Paul, said her new bill goes beyond protests and creates a tangible result.
“We need to create some policies that will align with the injustices they see are happening in their communities,” Moran said.
Moran is hoping her new bill can bridge the gap between some officers and communities by requiring police to become neighbors in the communities they serve.
HF1820 allows individual local governments to create residency mandates. (The bill doesn’t require local governments to create the mandates or delve into the percentages of law enforcement officers who would be bound by them.)
But some lawmakers say officers do not have to live somewhere to understand it.
Rep. Dan Schoen, R-Cottage Grove, has been a police officer for 14 years.
“You can also do that in other ways by making sure people are involved in the community while not wearing their uniform,” Schoen said.
Schoen said every law enforcement agency would love to have its members reside where they work, but it is not always financially feasible.
“You have to decide, What is the community you work for? and, What can an officer afford on the wages they have?” Schoen said.
Moran said the bill would call for local governments to possibly provide incentives for officers to move, like help with loan payments, extra wages or tax breaks.
“Sometimes when it doesn’t happen in your community, you don’t see the value of it, and my hope is more [lawmakers] will see the value in this,” Moran said.
Moran hopes her bill will make it into a hearing sometime before the end of this session.
St. Paul city council passed a resolution in February to start a pilot program that would offer incentives to police officers to move into St. Paul, but the mayor rejected it, saying it does not make sense to single out any one city department and pay them to live there.
Mayor Chris Coleman also said where the officers live matters less than their background and life experience.