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Minnesota Senate to consider $1 million pro-police marketing campaign

A Senate committee on Thursday advanced the bill on party lines, advancing it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Minnesota Senate - 013122
Members of the Minnesota Senate on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, applauded after Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound, was elected as Senate president on the first day of the 2022 legislative session.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — A Minnesota committee on Thursday, Feb. 10, advanced a $1 million proposal to launch a pro-police marketing campaign around the state, teeing up a vote on the plan in the Minnesota Senate.

Republican senators proposed the campaign as part of a larger package of proposals aimed at recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers around the state. They said amid a surge of violent crime in Minnesota, lawmakers needed to more to keep police on the job. And a public appreciation campaign could do that, GOP lawmakers said. The bill was also amended to include a $1 million appropriation to a program to help recruit people of color into law enforcement positions.

“You talk to your police officers in your community and this is what they’re going to tell you, 'We need more officers on the street.' The only way we’re going to reduce crime in Minnesota is to get more police officers out there,” Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, said. “So this ad campaign will do that.”

The six Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee voted to advance the bill, while the four Democrats on it said it was inappropriate coming a week after Minneapolis police shot and killed Amir Locke while executing a no-knock warrant in a homicide investigation. Locke was not a suspect in the homicide.

“I think that the timing is highly insensitive,” Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said. “Saying that we’re going to run an advertising campaign a week after that and saying we’re going to put $1 million into saying, ‘Police are great’ … there are lots of wonderful police officers but let’s try to address the problems.”

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Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, on Thursday said he expected the Senate would vote on the proposal on Monday, Feb. 14.

Another Senate panel on Thursday took up two other bills that would spend $20 million on scholarships for Minnesotans hoping to obtain an associate's degree in law enforcement and another $20 million in grants for students already studying to enter the field.

Locke's family and advocates for eliminating no-knock search warrants gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday to urge lawmakers to rewrite policing laws. Democrats in the Minnesota House of Representatives have put forward a plan to limit when the unannounced searches can be used to allow them only when a life is at risk.

MORE FROM DANA FERGUSON:
Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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