A Minneapolis suburb, the scene of fatal police shootings of Black men, has voted through a police reform bill to overhaul public safety.
The city council of Brooklyn Center voted 4-1 on Saturday to pass the resolution which would reduce police powers as well as create an unarmed unit to respond to incidents involving medical, mental health, disability, social and behavioural issues.
The bill will be named after two men, Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who were killed during encounters with city law enforcement officers.
Mayor Mike Elliott said in a written statement posted on Facebook that the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution was a “commitment to do better.”
He said: “This resolution -- which is a reflection of hours of community testimony over the past few weeks -- will transform our system so that police are not the only available response for everything. It creates a way to send civilian and community-based responses and also increases transparency, accountability, & community input.”
This is just the first step in a long road ahead -- but that is work that we as a city are ready to do with our community.On April 11, Daunte Wright, 20, was fatally shot during a traffic stop by a police officer in Brooklyn Center. Officer Kim Potter, 48, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after claiming she accidentally fired her gun, mistakenly grabbing it instead of her Taser. She has not yet entered a plea.
In 2019 Kobe Dimock Heisler, 21, was shot dead by officers who responded to a 911 call from his grandfather who was having trouble calming him down following an argument. Mr Heisler had a history of mental health problems and was on the autism spectrum.
No charges were filed against the officers.
After the vote Katie Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, said that her son would still be alive if these measures were in place on April 11.
“I don’t wish this on anybody in the room, and in order for this to not happen, we need this resolution,” Ms Wright said.
Brooklyn Center is around ten miles from where George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.
Mr Floyd’s death sparked global protests calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. Chauvin was convicted of murder in April and is facing decades in prison.
The Brooklyn Center reforms will include a committee of experts to advise on how to take a public health-oriented approach to community safety, as well as an oversight committee for the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
There will be an unarmed community response team to assist with mental health and medical crises meaning that 911 calls of this nature would be rerouted away from the police department.
A “citation and summons” policy will be implemented to stop officers making arrests or searching vehicles during non-moving traffic violations.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the anti-racism non-profit, CAIR-MN, said: “It’s about saving lives and protecting the most vulnerable in our community, individuals who are dealing with mental health crises and their families and those who are poor in this city, work hard every day, and pulled over by police for no reasons.”