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Minnesota leaders ban chokeholds, 'warrior training' in comprehensive police reform bill

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(MINNEAPOLIS) — Nearly two months after George Floyd died at the hand of Minneapolis police officers, Minnesota state leaders approved a comprehensive police reform bill that included a ban on chokeholds and what it deemed “warrior-style training.”

The state Legislature passed the bill during the early morning hours Tuesday. Gov. Tim Walz said he will sign the legislation, calling the reforms “overdue,” in a statement. Among the 14 reform measures in the bill are a ban on police use of chokeholds, a ban on “warrior training,” increased de-escalation training and a new unit that will investigate police use of force incidents.

“After decades of advocacy by communities of color and Indigenous communities, the bipartisan passage of these measures is a critical step toward justice. This is only the beginning,” Walz said in a statement.

Floyd was killed on Memorial Day when four officers arrested him following a 911 phone call from a convenience store over a counterfeit bill. The arrest was filmed by bystanders and security cameras and showed white Officer Derek Chauvin putting Floyd on the ground and placing his knee into the suspect’s neck as he gasped, “I can’t breathe.”

Chauvin was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while the three other officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane, were charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder and second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Floyd’s death sparked massive protests around the country calling for police reform and an end to use of force during arrests. The Minnesota legislative package addresses some of those concerns.

Under the legislation officers in the state cannot perform a chokehold, tie “all of a person’s limbs together behind the person’s back to render the person immobile” or secure “a person in any way that results in transporting the person face down in a vehicle.”

The legislation also bars police forces from offering “warrior-style training” to its members, which is defined as “training for peace officers that is intended to increase a peace officer’s likelihood or willingness to use deadly force in encounters with community members.” Any member who conducts the training on their own will not receive education credits or tuition reimbursement from their departments, according to the legislation.

Minneapolis’s police department had previously banned “warrior-style training” last year but the Minneapolis police union offered to pay for the training for any member who wanted to partake in it on their own time.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement the state bill did not go far enough, especially since his city enacted similar reforms. He also called out the lack of reform when it came to police arbitration.

“At the local level, change-oriented leaders like [Minneapolis PD] Chief [Medaria] Arradondo will continue to see their ability to effect a culture shift limited without changes to arbitrators’ authority to overturn disciplinary decision for egregious misconduct,” Frey said in a statement.

Representatives from the Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis, the union representing the city’s officers, didn’t immediately return messages for comment.

Another reform in the package includes retraining officers on the way they handle persons suffering from mental health issues and persons with autism. It also requires the state to come up with a pilot program where officers work with county mobile crisis mental health services.

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