A coalition of top executives on Wednesday called on Minnesota legislators to tackle police reform at a special session slated to begin Friday.
The Minnesota Business Partnership—which includes 3M CEO Michael Roman, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, Target CEO Brian Cornell, and dozens of other business leaders—is asking for a dozen specific reforms to curb “unacceptable police behavior.” That includes reforming the investigation process for officer misconduct.
“We are committed to working with lawmakers and communities of color to reform policing practices to ensure that police receive the training necessary to prevent biased policing and inappropriate use of force and are held accountable when they do occur,” the executives said in a statement. “We understand that this is not a ‘one and done’ exercise – it will require hard work, and some reforms will require consensus-building over time.”
Among the partnership’s policy recommendations, the business leaders are asking law enforcement agencies to make “sanctity of life” a key value in any use-of-force policies. Counter to ongoing demands to defund the police, the business group asked legislators to “increase state-provided law enforcement training funding where appropriate.” The partnership also requested more training to help officers work with the African-American population, along with people with disabilities and those undergoing mental health crises.
Notably, the Minnesota Business Partnership endorsed the creation of an independent investigation unit within the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to review instances of officer-involved shootings. The partnership also recommended using simulators and body cam footage to help coach officers on de-escalation tactics.
“It is important to recognize that police reform is not a partisan issue, nor is it an indictment of the countless law enforcement officers who perform their job every day with bravery, integrity, and compassion,” the partnership said. “This is about building the trust of our communities and holding people accountable who seriously betray the public trust.”
In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Gov. Tim Walz highlighted the partnership’s recommendations, and said that group is “not known as a bastion of liberalism on social issues.”
“The world is watching how we act on this,” Walz told reporters. “Let’s seize this moment. Let’s not think small. Let’s think big.”
The governor has asked legislators to move quickly on the issue, though he acknowledged it may require multiple special sessions. Some GOP leaders have suggested tackling the state’s bonding bill and Covid-19 issues first, and then reconvening on the issue of public safety at another time.
Still, police reform seems to have some bipartisan support. In a tweet, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said most residents “want the police to maintain order and keep them safe.”
“Restructure yes, defund and remove, no,” the senator said. “Being safe is not privilege, it’s what all communities expect and aspire towards.”