Proposed rule would make support of white supremacist or hate groups a violation of police ‘standards of conduct’

The Minnesota Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board is considering a new rule for licensed officers that would make support or involvement in white supremacist, hate, or extremist groups a violation of police ‘standards of conduct.’

It’s one of three rule changes under the POST Board’s review.

Any officer violating the code of conduct is subject to discipline, ranging from a reprimand to termination.

Another proposal would require law enforcement agencies to adopt a policy around police responses to public assemblies, crowd control, and use of force.

A public comment period on the rule changes is open for one more week, until Wednesday, July 20.

Police on East Lake Street on the first night of protests over George Floyd’s murder.

The Minnesota Justice Research Center has prepared a useful guide that explains the proposed rule changes, and provides guidance on how to write and submit comments.

The POST Board is “a state-level agency that sets the requirements and standards for licensing, training, and conduct of law enforcement officers,” the Center said. “… Historically, the POST Board has not set strong requirements and standards for law enforcement officers. Without strong requirements and standards, officers lack clear guidance and cannot be held accountable for failing to protect and serve their communities.”

It seems like a no-brainer to make support of white supremacy or hate groups a violation of “police standards of conduct.” It’s essential to a department’s credibility and community trust.

(The Minnesota Justice Research Center said that 10 members of the POST Board’s Advisory Committee support the new rule and 10 oppose it.)

Police response at Treaties Not Tar Sands event at the state Capitol, August 2021

The Minnesota Law Enforcement Code of Ethics reads in part (see Section 5-102.01):

“As a Minnesota Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both by personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. …

The Minneapolis Police Department recently updated it “Discipline Matrix.” Neither the words “white supremacy” or “extremist” appear in MPD’s manual or matrix.

The proposed rule adds needed specificity.

Another proposed rule would require law enforcement agencies to adopt a policy that would:

  • Set standards for use of force in a crowd
  • Require local authorization as well as crowd warnings before use of force is initiated
  • Outline officer conduct at events
  • Require visible officer identification on the uniform or helmet, and
  • Address First Amendment issues including the presence of media

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