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Duluth Police Department reaction on new police accountability law

Updated: July 23, 2020 06:10 PM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed a police accountability bill into law that includes a ban on neck restraints like the one that was used on George Floyd before his death in Minneapolis.

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The bill passed by the Legislature earlier this week also bans chokeholds and so-called warrior-style training, which critics say promotes excessive force. It imposes a duty to intercede on officers who see a colleague using excessive force. Officers will get more training on dealing with people with mental health issues and autism.

Passage of the bill came after nearly two months of difficult negotiations that followed Floyd’s death May 25 and the ensuing unrest that spread around the world over police brutality and racism.

"George Floyd's death brought an unprecedented urgency to the conversation around police reform and community safety," said Walz. "Every single person, every single Minnesotan deserves to feel safe and protected in their communities. This bipartisan piece of legislation moves us towards a critical step towards criminal justice reform. They're meant to strengthen transparency and community oversight."

"The death of George Floyd was incredibly tragic. The event unfolded over minutes and there was opportunities for intervention, there were opportunities to do different strategies," said Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken. "There was a need for care and compassion, there was a need for respect of humanity that we didn't see. It was a tragedy that absolutely could have been avoided."

Almost two months after George Floyd's murder, a murder that struck a cord across the country, state leaders say we have taken a step forward in holding law enforcement accountable.

Tusken said they pride themselves in being progressive and innovative.

"The vast majority of items on this bill are items that we already have been practicing in our organization for some time," said Tusken.

Tusken added that this bill will improve policing and will make sure these new policies are adopted in the department.

"People will trust the police if our actions match our words and I think that is critically important in policing," said Tusken.

State leaders emphasized that this is only a first step in trying to fix the system that was long overdue and that a lot of work still needs to be done.

"I'm really grateful to be here taking the first steps towards meaningful police accountability and reform. I want to be clear, these are only the first steps. The bill that the governor signed today is not everything that needs and should be done. Our commitment to the people, the families and communities impacted by police violence does not start or end here today," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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