The Police Reform Turning Point Project
At Tuesday’s vigil about the killing of Amir Locke, many of you asked what concrete things the school would do in response to yet another police killing of a Black man in our community. We are starting one specific project this week that we think could make a positive difference.
Over the last few days, we have been in touch with legislators, policymakers, and leaders of our local police and others who are all interested in police reform, particularly reform directed at making policing better for the community and those who serve in law enforcement. The folks we have spoken with who support this type of reform urgently need legal research, statutory drafting, social science analysis, talking points and op-eds, model community-police agreements, and other specific work product that we can generate right here at Mitchell Hamline. We are inviting members of our community, including students, staff, faculty members, and alumni to get engaged in this work.
This police reform initiative will include focus on the following preliminary list:
1. Banning no-knock warrants – Analyzing the history, the law, and the social science; reviewing the legislative history and laws in states that have banned such warrants (Oregon and Florida); working at the state and local level on legislation.
2. Amplifying and sharing effective police reform efforts – Identifying successful reforms in specific departments from across the country; drafting model policies; researching the law and social science on safer and more equitable approaches to policing.
3. Drafting model agreements between community and police – Identifying effective consent decree terms and other provisions in agreements between the police and community groups (e.g., the agreement between the St. Paul NAACP and the St. Paul Police, including the emerging agreement on an addendum to that original agreement) to work toward similar agreements in other communities.
4. Exploring regulatory reform – Analyzing the legal authority of the Minnesota POST Board (and other state licensing entities) and other potential administrative and regulatory options for reforming police practices.
5. Exploring ways to support officers by improving officer training and education – As our nation becomes more pluralistic and the scope of law enforcement’s responsibilities expands, the need for expanded and more effective training has become critical. Today’s line officers and leaders must be trained and capable to address a wide variety of challenges including international and domestic terrorism, evolving technologies, changing laws, new cultural mores, and a growing mental health crisis.
6. Exploring ways to improve officer wellness and safety – The wellness and safety of law enforcement officers is critical not only for the officers, their colleagues, and their agencies, but also to public safety. Every day we ask officers to protect us from harm and in doing so we ask them to step into dangerous, toxic, and traumatic situations. With that, they are exposed to situations that have a potentially negative impact on the metal and physical well-being. An unhealthy officer is not an effective officer.
7. Exploring ways to develop greater trust, transparency, and legitimacy – Building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police/citizen divide is the foundational principle underlying the nature of relations between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Decades of research and practice support the premise that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have authority that is perceived as legitimate by those subject to the authority.
This is only a preliminary list, and we invite interested MHSL community members to submit their ideas for possible inclusion on the list. More action items can and will be added.
Eligible students may be able to receive pay or academic credit.