MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill into law Thursday intended to keep police accountable in the line of duty. While some are excited about this bipartisan supported legislation, there are others who say it doesn’t go far enough.

“Every single person, every single Minnesotan deserves to feel safe and protected in their communities,” the governor said at a morning signing ceremony. “This bipartisan piece of legislation moves us towards a critical step towards criminal justice reform.”

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The Minnesota Police Accountability Act is now law. The People of Color and Indigenous Caucus worked for weeks to come to terms on police accountability reforms and measures to ensure racial justice. Although all of its proposals are not included in the new law, the POCI Caucus believes it sets the foundation for a helpful future for Black, Indigenous and communities of color.

The law is the first step towards major change to hold police officers accountable for harmful acts. The law includes a ban on “warrior training” and chokeholds. It requires the duty to intercede and report the use of excessive force by a fellow police officer. It also requires the POST board to create a uniform use of force policy for the states law enforcement agencies.

Mike Elliott sits on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union, and he is also the mayor of Brooklyn Center. He acknowledges the hard work that went into getting this legislation passed but feels more needs to be done.

“The reform and the legislation doesn’t go far enough to really end racialized policing and overpolicing of Black and Brown communities,” he said. “It does not include a special prosecutor to oversee these cases when police kill someone, and I think that is incredibly important to have.”

Elliot says now is not time for Minnesota to pat itself on the back for a job well done.

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“Lawmakers need to sit down with community members and we need a real coming together this moment calls for the very best in all of us and we have to put aside our differences and we have to make right the whole entire world is watching us,” he said.

Walz also has said the work does not end with the signing of this law. Community leaders agree, saying they want to see an open dialogue between lawmakers, law enforcement and community to make sure this law protects all Minnesotans.

“I do think it’s a Band-Aid over a bigger problem, but I hope in the long run that the community starts to feel like our chief is trying to reform the police department,” said Jamar Nelson, an activist with the group A Mother’s Love. “The police department has to be reflective of the community it serves. I think this is a small step in the right direction, but I think there has to be ongoing communication with Black and Brown people in the community.”

Lawmakers made sure to point out this law does nothing to defund, dismantle or otherwise impede the ability of police officers to do their job.

Other community-based organizations say they should be included in talks going forward on how to add “teeth” to the new legislation. Lawmakers say they look forward to conversations with the community to make sure all of Minnesota is represented.

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The reforms come less than two months since the police killing of George Floyd, whose death sparked protests and riots in the Twin Cities and across the country. Minnesota lawmakers came to an agreement on the police accountability reforms during a special session earlier this week.

Reg Chapman