EDITORIAL: Policing: Make push for body cams, traffic stops

·2 min read

Jun. 23—We're glad to see bipartisan progress on various police reform proposals at the Legislature, and the long-overdue decision to supply the State Patrol with body cameras.

Now is the time to strike, as the compromising spirit is hot. And more, the House minority Republicans have agreed to stop their delaying tactics as if they'd talked to the Lady of Fatima to get "peace and comfort through times of uncertainty."

Now it's time to move forward on other police reform proposals, the most important being outlawing traffic stops for minor instances like a broken tail light or objects hanging from windshields. That was part of the reason Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter stopped Daunte Wright. That stop turned tragic when Potter shot and killed Wright thinking she was tazing him.

County attorneys and local law enforcement already have the power to change the rules on those traffic stops, and if the Legislature won't or can't do it, local units of government should. But a statewide mandate would make the policy uniform and build trust with all those who feel they are targeted by police.

In fact, some in the law enforcement community favor reducing the number of minor instances that call for traffic stops. Wright was going to be taken into custody for not appearing in a minor court case, a police action that would have required officers' time to process. And unfortunately, Wright had not received the message or letter of when he was to appear. So a minor mistake became a major tragedy.

Police officers have much better things to spend their time on than minor traffic stops.

Other police reform efforts like removing limits on officer liability are more complicated and may need more time to work their ways through various committees with expertise.

It's worth continuing those discussions in a non-budget year where the public can weigh in and show their legislators that they overwhelming support some of the measures.

Police reform will be one of the major accomplishments of the Legislature. Let's hope well-meaning people can bring this across the finish line.

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