Minnesota governor signs ban on chokeholds as part of new police reform law

Minnesota governor signs ban on chokeholds as part of new police reform law
© Stefani Reynolds

Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzOmar seeks to fend off late surge from primary challenger Republican lawmakers say Minnesota mask order violates state law against hiding identity Minnesota GOP official who posted image linking mask wearing to Nazi Germany resigns MORE (D) on Thursday signed into law police reform legislation that bans the use of chokeholds and establishes new reporting requirements for police departments, among other provisions.

Walz signed the legislation nearly two months after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white police officer pinned him down by his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd was heard in viral video pleading for his life before becoming unresponsive and dying. Four now-former Minneapolis police officers involved in his arrest have been charged over his death.

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Beyond prohibiting chokeholds, the new law requires officers to intervene when someone else is violating the new restrictions. It mandates that police departments in the state report use-of-force incidents to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, creates a statewide database of officer discipline records and institutes mental health and crisis intervention training, among other things.

"This bipartisan piece of legislation moves us towards a critical step towards criminal justice reform," Walz said at a press conference. "I'm proud that Minnesota is taking these steps and I'm proud now to sign these measures into law." 

Some Democrats said the legislation did not go far enough, noting that many of the reforms have already been implemented by some mayors and claiming that the bill did not adequately address arbitration reform.

“The absence of significant arbitration reform in last night’s agreement represents a missed opportunity to strengthen accountability in departments across our state," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) said in a statement to Kare 11. "People build culture, and we need the tools to more effectively address individual officer behavior." 

State leaders said the signing of the bill did not mark an end to their commitment to address systemic racism and complaints over police brutality. 

"Our commitment to the people, the families impacted by police violence does not start or end here today," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D) said. "This is a first step."