St. Paul, MN - Democrats in the Minnesota House of Representatives today announced a new proposal to recruit and retain police officers who are underrepresented in the profession and who have a proven commitment to serving the community. Developed in consultation with the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the DFL proposal would utilize the Minnesota State system to provide intensive, comprehensive coursework and training for highly qualified college degree holders and high school graduates.
“Communities across the state have expressed a clear and urgent need for more peace officers who are highly qualified and able to withstand the rigors of being a modern officer,” said Rep Heather Edelson (DFL - Edina), who is a co-author of the bill. “In speaking with public safety leaders, and constituents, it is evident that we need to restore trust and confidence in our police forces as well. I am confident that this bill will help to build a strong foundation of trust in our peace officers by ensuring our communities are protected by the best and brightest.”
The DFL proposal would strive to include people from groups that are currently underrepresented in policing while ensuring participants represent all regions of the state. Financial benefits would include free tuition, a stipend to cover living expenses, job placement assistance, a signing bonus, and a retention bonus after 18 months of service. Participants must remain continuously employed full-time as a peace officer in Minnesota for six years after completion of the program.
To improve community confidence in law enforcement, program applicants must submit to a thorough background search, including searches by local, state, and federal agencies, to disclose the existence of any criminal record or conduct which would adversely affect the performance by the candidate of peace officer duties. Applications would be reviewed by a selection committee convened by the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, to include representatives of all of Minnesota’s major law enforcement organizations and be chaired by the POST Board’s executive director.
The bill’s first public hearing is scheduled for 3pm on Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the House Higher Education Committee.