Improving Police Officer Accountability in Minnesota: Three Proposed Legislative Reforms

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47 Mitchell Hamline Law Review 222 (2021)


The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020 put the issue of police reform back into the national discussion and made Minnesota, at least during a brief window of time, confront its past on issues of racism and police abuse.

This article provides background on the racist and problematic history of policing in Minnesota and the many reports and studies that have both condemned the State’s lack of action and proposed specific steps that could have helped, but were never taken.

The article then details three specific legislative proposals recommended to address the problems of racist and abusive policing . First, Minnesota should enact a state-based civil rights statute modeled on federal § 1983, but with explicit restrictions on qualified immunity. Second, Minnesota should enact a complete change to the current model of officer indemnification and require that officers carry their own professional liability insurance, just like lawyers and doctors do, to leverage market-based accountability forces. Third, Minnesota should amend its current statute on police use of deadly force to include consideration of what an officer does or does not do that contributes to the circumstances leading to the deadly use of force.