By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Senate is debating a police reform bill that creates a statewide ban on chokeholds and requires officers to report abuse by fellow officers.

While community activists and DFL critics say the bills won’t go anywhere far enough in the wake of George Floyd’s death, at least one of the five Republican bills would mark a significant change for state policing.

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The five bills focus on training, tracking use-of-force incidents, as well as counseling for police officers. The most significant bill, the ban on chokeholds, creates a duty for officers to report abuse and to respect the sanctity of life.

Republican leaders hail these as major reforms.

“We are going to change the culture in law enforcement. We want them to start out protecting the sanctity of life,” said Sen. Warren Limmer.

At a Senate hearing, community leaders ripped the proposals to shreds, saying they were inadequate.

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Retired Judge and Law Professor LaJune Lange said “this does not meet the tests and expectations of the people for this time.”

Many topics, such as body cameras, have been omitted, said Lange.

The Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy, who is the current chair of the POST board, which licenses all Minnesota peace officers, agreed the Senate measures are not enough.

“This is not the time for us to be comfortable. This is the time for us to engage in the courageous systematic changes that are necessary to give all Minnesotas the equality and justice they deserve,” she said.

The Minnesota House bills also contain a ban on chokeholds and the duty to report fellow police misconduct. Additionally, they call to transfer all deadly police force cases to the Minnesota Attorney General and include residency requirements for officers.

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The Senate is expected to pass all these bills. The House will vote on them later in the week.

Esme Murphy