Bill requires police to increase crisis training, diversity awareness
Local police departments could soon get extra training to help them deal with crisis situations. New legislation would require police training in new areas and help pay for it.

The legislation requires specific training in crisis intervention, conflict management and diversity awareness. The state would allocate $10 million to fund the training. That's an increase from the $4 million the state currently spends on police training.

"I think it is something that our officers would benefit from, it's something that our officers would like to see," said Brooklyn Center police Commander Richard Gabler.

The moves comes after several protests erupted in Minnesota after police shootings of African-American men. The bill is getting bipartisan support.

"This will be the first time that there will be specifically mandated training related to this crisis response conflict management and cultural diversity," said Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center.

Law enforcement agencies pushed for the training. Maple Grove Police Chief Eric Werner is a member of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

"It's our work with the legislature that I think that made this happen."

The bill would also help local departments recruit more officers of color. That's something the Maple Grove police chief says is challenging. The "Pathway to Policing" program would reimburse local departments that hire non–traditional candidates, including people of color and those who are already working in other careers.

"We are all struggling to get candidates of diversity and with this innovative pathway, it will allow us another opportunity to reach out to those candidates that want to make a career change," explained Chief Werner.

Local officials say the bill is good for cops and the community.

"I think that it says folks are starting to come together on what some of the solutions are. This is bipartisan, it's from folks both from the inner cities and the suburbs," said Hilstrom.

Brooklyn Center has approximately 18 to 20 officers already trained in crisis intervention. Officials say they want more officers to get trained this year.

Sonya Goins, reporting

February 16, 2017


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