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Brooklyn Center Passes Sweeping Public Safety Resolution To Reform Policing

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The City of Brooklyn Center on Saturday passed a sweeping public safety resolution that will change how policing is performed in the city, following the fatal April shooting of Daunte Wright. The resolution passed by a 4-1 vote.

The resolution, backed by Mayor Mike Elliott, intends to create new departments for community safety, which would oversee the existing police and fire departments, as well as create divisions of unarmed civilians to handle non-moving traffic violations and respond to mental health distress calls.

"Brooklyn Center did not look to be in the national spotlight on these issues, but here we are," Elliott said.  "And given the tragic incidents that occurred here, including those taking the lives of Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, we must respond with a commitment to do better, and today's vote is part of that response."

A new "citations and summons" policy would require officers to only issue citations and prohibit them from making arrests for low-level offenses.

Click here to read the full resolution.

Mayor Mike Elliott says community voices were central in developing the resolution that creates an unarmed response to medical and mental health calls.

"Rather than an armed police officer showing up, it's going to be someone who has gone to school, understands mental health or autism, someone who's trained," he said.

The resolution is named for Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler, both men killed by Brooklyn Center Police in the last two years.

Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by former police officer Kim Potter, who is white, on April 11 during a traffic stop which police have said was for expired tabs. The Brooklyn Center Police Chief, who has since resigned, said Potter was reaching for her Taser when instead she grabbed her gun. She is charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Dimock-Heisler was killed in August of 2019 after police responded to a mental health distress call at his home. The incident report said that Dimock-Heisler, who family said suffered from mental illness, got up from his chair and started to run towards his grandmother. Police say he reached for a knife hidden in the couch cushions and officers Cody Turner and Brandon Akers fired six shots total, striking him in the chest and neck.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to bring charges against the officers, saying that they had "reasonable fear" Dimock-Heisler would harm the other officers at the scene or his grandmother.

Katie Wright, Daunte's mother, said it was an amazing day for her family.

"Gives us a little bit of hope there's not going to be another Daunte, not another George Floyd," she said.

Jim Mortenson, the executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services, the union that represents Brooklyn Center police, says law enforcement was left out of the conversation on coming up with the resolution's reforms.

"[Elliott] went outside of the city government to create this document and quite frankly, there's a lot of errors in it when you look at the statutory issues in this document," Mortenson said.

Elliott says input from local police was taken into account and that the city's done its legal due diligence.

The mayor rebutted other concerns from the union head too, including the "citations and summons" policy meaning arrests would be banned for DWIs or domestic incidents. Elliott says that's not the case.

Mortenson also says he's worried about the safety of civilians and mental health professionals who are being put in potentially dangerous situations.

"We're going to be constantly adjusting to make sure that we're putting in the right policies and if we need to change it up, we'll do that," Elliott said.

Wright's death reignited a national debate over police reform and accountability; the shooting happened miles from where George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin last May. Though the majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to defund the police department in the wake of Floyd's murder and the subsequent unrest that rocked the city, many of those members have since walked back on their promises.

However, on Friday, a community-driven charter amendment to replace MPD with a more holistic approach to public safety was determined to have enough signatures to appear on the ballot in November. One of the major changes involves shifting the authority of the police department from the mayor's office to the city council.

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