Pohlad Family Foundation to fund recommendations for reducing police-involved deadly-force encounters

One year after release of recommendations, working group co-led by AG and DPS commissioner meets again to review progress, investments

February 25, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, joined by Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington, and Pohlad Family Foundation Vice President and Executive Director Susan Bass Roberts, announced today that the Pohlad Family Foundation has committed $3 million, through a partnership with the National League of Cities, to fund implementation of the recommendations of the State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly-Force Encounters.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the working group, held to mark the anniversary of the release of the working group’s executive summary and recommendations one year ago. At today’s meeting, working group members also reviewed updates about the considerable progress that has been made in implementing the working group’s 28 recommendations and 33 action steps, as well as Governor Walz’s latest proposed budget investments for implementing more of the working group’s recommendations and action steps.

“A lot has happened in just one year — and all of it has pointed to the continued need to implement these carefully considered recommendations, and the urgency of doing so,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’m pleased with the substantial progress we’ve made in the last year, and there is more to do. The time to implement these recommendations is not when the next deadly-force encounter happens, but before it happens.

“I continue to be grateful for all the people who testified, especially the families who are still suffering the loss of a loved one from a deadly-force encounter, and for the dedication and determination of the working group members to see the process through. I’m proud that we in Minnesota set a national model for coming together and staying together through our differences and disagreements to making concrete recommendations. When we implement them, we will reduce deadly-force encounters,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.

“George Floyd’s death sparked a national conversation on race and policing,” said Governor Tim Walz. “The only way we can move forward is with diverse range of voices at the table having difficult conversations. That’s exactly what this working group has done. Their recommendations informed the Police Accountability Act I signed in July, and will continue to guide our police accountability work. I’m incredibly grateful for the leaders who’ve come to the table with expertise and commitment, and for our partners like the Pohlad Family Foundation who will help ensure we can implement these changes.”

“We came together from very different backgrounds and perspectives, but we are united in finding ways to reduce deadly force encounters. We have found in the last year that it is not impossible to do this work, but it takes all of us to ensure we succeed. The progress that has been made on the working group’s recommendations is proof that there is commitment to change and common ground on solutions,” said Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington.

“The Pohlad Family Foundation supports racial-justice efforts that are community-based and draw upon a wide range of expertise,” Susan Bass Roberts, vice president and executive director of the Pohlad Family Foundation, said. “The recommendations of this working group resonated with us because they were practical and actionable, and most importantly, because people who have had negative encounters with law enforcement had a role in defining the solutions.”

“We always said this was just the beginning, and the support of the Pohlad Family Foundation inspires action and builds important momentum to continue the critical implementation work ahead,” Commissioner Harrington added.

Investment from Pohlad Family Foundation

In 2020, the Pohlad family committed $25 million to advance racial justice in the Twin Cities. One of the Pohlad Family Foundation’s three Racial Justice programs is Reimagining Public Safety. As part of its Reimagining Public Safety program, the Foundation announced that it is committing $3 million in a partnership with the National League of Cities to support the working group’s recommendations and similar efforts at municipal and county levels and ensure that recommendations have the resources to be implemented.

The Foundation will issue a Request for Proposal on March 15, 2021. The RFP aims to:

The Foundation is looking for applicants from the seven-county metro area who will partner with a broad range of stakeholders on proposals such as:

Governor’s budget investments in recommendations of working group

In his budget for the 2021-23 biennium, Governor Walz has proposed investing $4.2 million in to address several working group recommendations:

Progress Report

In the year since the working group released its 28 recommendations and 33 action steps, substantial, measurable progress has been made on 23 of them. The passage of the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020 is a significant source of that progress. Among its provisions, the Act:

The Governor and Legislature also provided significant funding in 2020 for these and other measures related to reducing deadly-force encounters.

With that authorization and funding, the BCA is creating its Use of Force Investigations Section. This unit will focus exclusively on use of force investigations, criminal sexual conduct violations involving peace officers, and conflict of interest investigations where public officials are accused of crimes. This unit is separate from the rest of the BCA’s investigation division in their chain of command and are even housed separately at the BCA Headquarters facility.

Among other notable updates, just under one year ago, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension established and hired for a new Victim, Family, and Community Relations Coordinator position to ensure that survivors of police-involved deadly-force encounters and families of those who have died in them are treated respectfully, provided timely information on a consistent basis, and given access to appropriate resources and services.

All of the progress in the last year on the working group’s recommendations and action steps is available on the working group’s website.

About the working group on reducing police-involved deadly-force encounters

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.

To date, 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.

Working group members conducted four all-day hearings and three listening sessions around the state between August 2019 and January 2020. At working group hearings, members heard 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.

On February 24, 2020, the working group released an executive summary of its work along with its 28 recommendations and 33 actions steps, all of which fell within the five pillars of the mandate the working group set for itself: community healing; prevention and training; investigations and accountability; policy and legal implications; officer wellness.

Among the notable recommendations are:

An expanded report, which will include the one-year progress updates delivered today, will be released shortly.