State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen's long career in law enforcement is about to be put to use by a working group that will hold hearings and make recommendations involving police-involved deadly force encounters in Minnesota.
Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) – who worked for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office from 1972-2007, including 16 years as sheriff – has been appointed to serve on the 16-member group. He is in his fourth term in the Minnesota Senate, representing portions of Douglas and Otter Tail counties.
He said that law enforcement has come under scrutiny across the nation and in Minnesota the past few years due to shootings involving police, and those situations have created a level of distrust in some places between the public and officers.
“With 34 years of experience in law enforcement, I understand how intense and dangerous these situations are and how our officers must rely on split-second decision making," Ingebrigtsen said.
"It is my hope that through this working group we can find solutions that allow us to address these situations better while continuing to support our law enforcement officers who preserve the public’s safety throughout our communities.”
There have been 15 officer-involved shootings in Minnesota this year, of which 10 were fatal, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Two of the 15 were in Douglas County: a 64-year-old South Dakota man was shot by a sheriff's deputy in Kensington May 7; and a 27-year-old Miltona man was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy Feb. 26.
There were 13 such fatalities last year, which was tied with 2015 and 2016 as the highest numbers during the 41 years that Minnesota has been collecting the information, according to BCA statistics. The BCA says the deaths include those killed by officer gunfire, along with people who die by suicide.
The working group will be co-chaired by Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Ingebrigtsen is just one of two state legislators appointed, with the other being Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis).
The other members include:
- Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis police chief
- Clarence Castile, community advocate
- Elizer Darris, American Civic Liberties Union-Minnesota
- Matt Gottschalk, Corcoran director of public safety, representing Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association
- Mark Kappelhoff, Hennepin County judge
- Brittany Lewis, University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
- Brian Peters, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association executive director
- Mark Rubin, St. Louis County attorney, representing Minnesota County Attorneys Association
- Chanda Smith Baker, Minneapolis Foundation
- Kevin Torgerson, Olmsted County sheriff, representing Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association
- Artika R. Tyner, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Center on Race, Leadership and Social Justice
- A tribal law enforcement representative is still to be determined
The group will hold a series of three hearings over three months, beginning in August, at locations to be determined.
- Saturday, Aug. 17 – on investigation, oversight and accountability.
- Saturday, Sept. 28 – on prevention, training, officer wellness and community healing.
- Thursday, Oct. 17 – on policy and legal implications.
The hearings will be open to the public. Each hearing will have three to four panels, with each panel consisting of about four witnesses who will provide testimony relevant to the topic. Participants will represent the community, academia, subject matter experts, law enforcement and prosecutors.
The working group will then issue a final report, developing recommendations on ways the state can prevent, investigate and prosecute these fatal incidents. That may include changes to state or local policies or procedures, legislative initiatives, training, or recognition of best practices utilized by law enforcement agencies.
The recommendations are expected to be compiled by February 2020.
Locations and additional details for the meetings will be announced later and posted at dps.mn.gov.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press contributed to this story.