The Minnesota police training and licensure board has a mixed history of success and relevance since its founding in 1977. It is time it takes a more significant role in statewide police training practices and, more important, disciplining officer misconduct.
Some in the public sector see the POST board as an arm of police unions, protecting rogue officers from licensure suspensions. Indeed, a 2017 Star Tribune investigation found hundreds of officers had been convicted of crimes over two decades without losing their license.
The POST board reacted to the investigation by changing its criminal standards for when an officer’s license would be revoked.
The board is again under the spotlight with the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. In bipartisan police reform legislation passed recently, the Legislature tasked the POST board with improving accountability standards statewide, improving training, discouraging “warrior” training, setting a model for use of force, creating an officer misconduct database and improving its own accountability with more citizens on its board.
Those are big charges, but ones POST Interim Executive Director Erik Misselt calls a “watershed” moment for the licensing authority.
We hope the POST board takes that attitude seriously.
The legislation also created a new citizen committee, called Ensuring Police Excellence and Improving Community Relations Advisory Council, that will recommend reforms to the POST board. That may be the most significant change to POST board attitudes and operations.
The POST board, as the major licensing authority, has a lot of power when it comes to policing the police. As police serve the public, the POST board, which approves who becomes a police officer, should also serve the public.
Significant change is needed. Legislative leaders and community activists say they will be monitoring the progress of the POST board in implementing the legislated reforms.
We urge the POST board to move quickly and decisively to reform Minnesota policing where it can truly be in the interests of public safety for all, no matter race, creed or background.