ST. PAUL — Minnesota State will review its law enforcement program in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Chancellor Devinder Malhotra announced Wednesday, June 17.
Malhotra told the school system's board of trustees during a meeting Wednesday afternoon of his plan to assemble a working group that will drive a probe of the program's potential for bias. How members of that group will be selected was not immediately clear.
Alexandria Technical and Community College is among the schools that offer a degree in law enforcement.
The effort is one of many that seeks to reform and re-examine law enforcement methods in Minnesota that disproportionately affect black citizens in the wake of Floyd's death. Floyd, who was black, died the night of May 25 shortly after former Minneapolis city police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in a videotaped encounter that outraged the nation.
Police officers approached Floyd, 46, in the course of responding to a call alledging that he used a counterfeit bill at a south Minneapolis convenience store. Amid local and national protests sparked by Floyd's death, some of which turned violent, Chauvin was fired from the city force and charged with murder and manslaughter.
Wednesday's announcement, meanwhile, came after students throughout the 30-college, seven-university state school system lent their voices to the call for change as well.
LeadMN, the state system's student association, implored trustees and administrators in written testimony to "take a hard look at the education and training we are providing" as Minnesota's "primary educator of our states law enforcement." Three of the four officers present the night of Floyd's death, the association pointed out, were previously enrolled in Minnesota State law enforcement programs.
All have since been arrested in connection with Floyd's death.
Tatiana Bartone, an Alexandria Technical and Community College student and a West Central Governing Council representative for LeadMN, said many of the law enforcement students she knows are "good kids" who attend a program that is good, overall.
However, she said she would like to see the skills section of their training reviewed to make sure use-of-force strategies are up-to-date. She would also like to see law enforcement students mix more with the rest of the student body. They generally keep to themselves, she said, and when she has asked about it, they have been blunt.
"They just feel like we don't fit in with them," she said.
Scott Berger, dean of law enforcement, transportation and manufacturing at ATCC, could not be reached for comment.
Board member Cheryl Tefer said during Wednesday's meeting that it would be wise for the school system to review law enforcement teachings even if it determines them to be sufficient.
"This particular board is a fulcrum upon which so much can happen," she said.
Echo Press reporter Karen Tolkkinen contributed to this article.