Press Release

Working group releases consensus recommendations for reducing police-involved deadly force encounters

28 recommendations and 33 action steps cover community healing and engagement, prevention and training, investigations and accountability, policy and legal implications, and officer wellness

Diverse group convened by Attorney General Ellison and Public Safety Commissioner Harrington — only body of its kind in the country — completes six months of public hearings and listening sessions across Minnesota

February 24, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington today joined the members of the State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters in releasing 28 recommendations and 33 action steps that, if implemented, will reduce deadly force encounters with law enforcement in Minnesota. The recommendations fall under the categories of community healing and engagement; prevention and raining; investigations and accountability; policy and legal implications; and officer wellness. These are the five pillars of the mandate that the working set for itself. Its recommendations come after six months of testimony, study, and deliberation at seven hearings and listening sessions held across Minnesota, all of which were open to the public.

The working group, composed of a wide variety of community, advocacy, academic, foundation, mental-health, law-enforcement, and criminal-justice-system stakeholders, came to consensus on the recommendations and action steps. It is the only body in the country with membership this diverse that has taken a holistic, statewide look at the many factors that contribute to deadly force encounters and their impact on all people, systems, and communities involved in them, and has made actionable recommendations for reducing them.

“Deadly force encounters are among the hardest moments a family, an officer, a law-enforcement agency, and a community can live through. There have been lots of opinions about why they happen. We wanted to get beyond opinion and polarization to concrete recommendations and action steps that, if we implement them, will reduce them,” Attorney General Ellison said. “We’ve gotten there by bringing together a group of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences who aren’t usually invited to talk to each other about this hard topic and who stuck it out when the going got tough. And we’ve gotten there by doing the work in public and with the public, especially with family members who lost loved ones in deadly force encounters.”

"These recommendations, if implemented, will make Minnesota communities and the peace officers who serve them safer. The recommendations offer practical guidance and action steps to better prevent and respond to police-involved deadly force encounters," Commissioner Harrington said. "We brought together a knowledgeable group of stakeholders representing diverse backgrounds and professions from around the state to have the tough conversations. We heard testimony from 50 experts, including families who lost loved ones. As a result, we now have a plan of action that will reduce many deadly force encounters with police and provide justice and support when a tragedy occurs."

“This is just the beginning. Now we’ll get to work with the Legislature and partners in community, law enforcement, the criminal-justice system, and beyond to implement these recommendations and make them work,” Attorney General Ellison added.

Reducing police-involved deadly force encounters is as urgent in Minnesota as it is across the country. In 2019, 14 community members and one law-enforcement officer died in Minnesota in deadly force encounters. In addition, a police officer in Waseca who was gravely wounded in a deadly force encounter in January of this year faces a long road to recovery. No part of Minnesota is untouched: over the course of the last five years, 60 percent of the state’s more than 100 deadly-force encounters with law enforcement have taken place in Greater Minnesota. 

The executive summary of the work of the working group, with all 28 recommendations and 33 actions steps, is available on the Department of Public Safety website. The working group’s full report will be released in 4-6 weeks.

Recommendations and action steps

The goal of the working group was to make actionable recommendations to all parties and communities that, if implemented, will reduce deadly force encounters with law enforcement. Notable recommendations among the 28 recommendations and 33 action steps on which working group members came to consensus include:

All 28 recommendations and 33 actions steps fall within the five pillars of working group’s mandate:

  1. Community healing and engagement;
  2. Prevention and training;
  3. Investigations and accountability;
  4. Policy and legal implications;
  5. Officer wellness.

Working group members established four criteria for developing recommendations:

  1. It falls within the mandate of the working group.
  2. It is likely to have an impact on reducing deadly force encounters.
  3. It is actionable, with identifiable steps.
  4. It addresses community and law-enforcement concerns.

The recommendations and action steps are informed by testimony from: family members who lost loved ones in deadly force encounters; families of peace officers involved in deadly force encounters; community members; local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies; prosecutors; academics and researchers; the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board; the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; mental health and disability advocates; Minnesota League of Cities; community-healing practitioners; the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives; police union representatives and attorneys; providers of officer mental-health and wellness programs; other tribal, local, and state representatives; the general public; and national experts in reducing use of force, policing equity and data, innovation in prosecution, constitutional law, and community engagement before, during, and after deadly force encounters.

The working group did its work over a period of six months, ending in January. None of the recommendations should be construed as support for or opposition to any currently pending legislation.

Working group background and process

Attorney General Keith Ellison and Commissioner Harrington began discussing a working group to identify ways to reduce deadly force encounters with law enforcement in early 2019, shortly after each took office. On July 22, 2019, they announced the State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters, composed of 16 members that they chose to ensure that a cross-section of community, advocacy, academic, foundation, mental-health, law-enforcement, and criminal-justice-system stakeholders were at the table. They also chose members to ensure geographic and racial diversity. In September, Attorney General Ellison and Commissioner Harrington expanded the working group to 18 members in direct response to concerns that community expressed that members of the disability and autism community were not represented. Those 18 members stayed at the table for the duration of the process.

The working group was designed for members to listen to and learn from Minnesota-based and national researchers, experts, advocates, and each other, and especially those most directly involved in deadly force encounters: families whose loved ones lost their lives in those encounters; officers themselves, their families, and their agencies; and those tasked with investigating and prosecuting such cases.

The working group held four all-day public hearings and three evening listening sessions around Minnesota between August 2019 and January 2020:

Each public hearing day was broadly organized around one of four themes: 1) investigation, oversight, and accountability; 2) prevention, training, and officer wellness; 3) policy and legal Implications; 4) community healing and mental health.

The staff and consultant team that helped guide the working group’s deliberations was led by Ron Davis, partner of 21CP Solutions. From 2013–17, Mr. Davis served as director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2014, President Obama appointed him to serve as executive director of the President’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing, which developed concrete recommendations to improve community trust in police while enhancing public safety. Mr. Davis is also a former chief of police.

Public engagement

The public was invited to speak during the public comment sessions at the conclusion of each hearing and during the listening sessions, and to submit written testimony to inform the deliberations of the working group. The Department of Public Safety set up a web portal at to provide the public with full access to hearings, agendas, submitted testimony (written and oral), and a mechanism for submitting public testimony online. All hearing and listening sessions were live-streamed, videotaped, transcribed, and posted to the website. Meeting summaries were also prepared and posted for each of the four hearings, and are provided in the appendix of the executive summary, along with the hearing agendas.

Attorney General Ellison and Commissioner Harrington also held three public listening sessions in December in Minneapolis, Bemidji, and Worthington.

In addition, starting in September, the working group established a session at the beginning of each all-day hearing that was dedicated to hearing from families who had lost loved ones in police-involved deadly force encounters, in direct response to concerns that community and family members raised early on that those voices were not adequately represented. Attorney General Ellison and Commissioner Harrington also met privately with family members who lost loved ones in police-involved deadly force encounters.

Working group members

The following people served on the working group with Commissioner Harrington and Attorney General Ellison: