(BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn.) — Officials in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, the city where Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop last month, passed a resolution that aims to make significant policing changes.
The Brooklyn Center City Council convened Saturday afternoon to address a proposal, called the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety & Violence Prevention Act, to create new divisions of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and respond to mental crises.
Wright, a black 20-year-old father, was shot in the chest on April 11 during a traffic stop. Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who is white, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in his death.
After hearing two hours of at-times emotional public testimony, including by parents whose children were killed by police, as well as statements from the families of Wright and Dimock-Heisler, the council voted 4 to 1 to pass the resolution. The council member who voted against it, Kris Lawrence-Anderson, said she felt the council needed more time to consider it.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, who is a city council member, created and presented the resolution last week to “move toward transforming our public safety,” he said.
“We’re taking a bold step here, this city,” Elliott said at Saturday’s city council session ahead of the vote. “But we can do it. We’re gonna do it.”
The proposal seeks to create a new Community Response Department where unarmed, trained medical and mental health professionals and social workers will respond to calls involving medical, mental health, disability-related and other behavioral needs.
It will create an unarmed Civilian Traffic Enforcement Department for non-moving traffic violations.
In the Wright case, he was pulled over for what police said was expired tags. It escalated when officers realized Wright had an outstanding arrest warrant, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at the time.
Daunte Wright’s mother urged the city council to pass the resolution.
“I truly believe if this was implemented prior to April 11, our son would still be with us today,” Katie Wright said at the session before the council vote.
The mother of Dimock-Heisler, a 21-year-old man on the autism spectrum who was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center officers during a domestic disturbance call last year, also spoke in support of the resolution.
“We have no time to wait,” Amity Dimock told the council members. “There’s not many things I know for sure in this lifetime, but I know for sure that if measures like this had been passed earlier, that Daunte Wright would be alive today, and that Kob Heisler would be alive today. That much I know for sure.”
The resolution also seeks to create a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention to oversee the police department, fire department, traffic enforcement department and community response department.
It would also implement a “citation and summons” policy that would require officers only to issue citations and ban arrests and vehicle searches for non-moving traffic violations, non-felony offenses and non-felony warrants.
It’ll also create civilian committees to review and make recommendations regarding police response to protests and policies.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota called the proposed changes “an important first move” in changing policing, The Associated Press reported.
However, the resolution has been met with backlash by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., and the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association. The policing groups claimed the proposal conflicts with state law in a letter to city officials.
On Friday, the city attorney responded to those concerns in a memo to the City Council, saying “the adoption of the Act establishes goals and commits the City to working to achieve them, but it does not constitute a final action.”
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