Ellison Working Group Recommends Implicit Bias Training for All Police


A working group on police-involved shootings convened by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has recommended implicit bias training for all of the state’s law enforcement officers.

The “State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters” was announced by Ellison and Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington in July 2019. Since then, the group has held several listening sessions around the state and is composed of various lawmakers, police chiefs, and community advocates.

The group released a list of 28 recommendations and 33 “actions steps” in a report last week that will help “reduce deadly force encounters with law enforcement in Minnesota.”

One of the action steps states that all officers in Minnesota should be “trained in crisis intervention and mental health crises; conflict management and mediation; and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences that includes implicit bias training.”

“The Legislature should incorporate the current expansion of funds into the State base budget to meet this goal,” states the report.

Another action step calls on all law enforcement agencies to “train officers to be aware of the impact of current and historical racial trauma in communities and how to reduce additional trauma through officer actions.”

“This includes how to treat people at the scene of an incident, make appropriate referrals, conduct interviews, demonstrate empathy, listen, and refer people to trauma-informed services,” the report continues.

In releasing the report, Ellison said the working group “wanted to get beyond opinion and polarization to concrete recommendations and action steps.”

“We’ve gotten there by bringing together a group of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences who aren’t usually invited to talk to each other about this hard topic and who stuck it out when the going got tough. And we’ve gotten there by doing the work in public and with the public, especially with family members who lost loved ones in deadly force encounters,” he said in a statement.

The report also states that law enforcement agencies should adopt use-of-force policies that:

  • Make sanctity of life a core organizational value
  • Require officers to de-escalate when such effort does not compromise officer safety
  • Require force used by officers to be reasonable, necessary, and proportionate
  • Hold officers accountable to use sound tactics, such as time, distance, and cover, to reduce the need to use force
  • Require officers to intervene, when appropriate and safe, when witnessing unreasonable use of force
  • Require officers to report all incidents of unreasonable use of force to a supervisor.

“These recommendations, if implemented, will make Minnesota communities and the peace officers who serve them safer. The recommendations offer practical guidance and action steps to better prevent and respond to police-involved deadly force encounters,” Commissioner Harrington said.

Ellison said the working group plans to release a second report in the coming weeks and called the set of recommendations “just the beginning.”

“Now we’ll get to work with the Legislature and partners in community, law enforcement, the criminal-justice system, and beyond to implement these recommendations and make them work,” he added.

The full report can be viewed here.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Minneapolice Police” by Tony Webster CC2.0.







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