Proposed POST Board Rule Changes Signal Major Changes in Police Licensing

In 2020, the Ensuring Police Excellence and Improving Community Relations Advisory Council (EPEICRAC) was established by the Minnesota Legislature.  It is comprised of members of law enforcement associations, community leaders, as well as members appointed by the legislature.  The purpose of the council is “to assist the board in maintaining policies and regulating peace officers in a manner that ensures the protection of civil and human rights.”  It makes recommendations to the POST board that can be adopted.

While the Council has remained mostly quiet during its existence, a recent development from within the Council could have a major impact on law enforcement licensure within the state.  Currently, there are limited grounds for the discipline of peace officers, and several of them are for reasons related misconduct in dealing with the POST board.  The other reasons officers can be subject to discipline by the board include the following:

  • Being convicted of a felony or a gross misdemeanor;
  • Being convicted of a state or federal narcotics or controlled substance law;
  • Being adjudicated as incapacitated or lacking the capacity to serve as a peace officer;
  • Engaging in sexual penetration or contact without consent;
  • Being convicted of DUI, Domestic Assault, Mistreatment of Confined Persons, Criminal Sexual Conduct, misconduct; medical assistance fraud, theft, or maltreatment of vulnerable adults;
  • Engaging in sexual harassment;
  • Unauthorized use of deadly force; and
  • Being convicted of solicitation of prostitution.

Obviously, criminal convictions play a huge role in the discipline of officers by the POST board.  However, in recent meetings of the EPEICRAC, proposals have been made to reduce the threshold for officer discipline by the board.

In the discussion materials submitted by the Chair of the EPEICRAC, the Council is proposing removing the requirement that officers actually be convicted of any of the crimes listed in the rules, and only require that it be shown the officer engaged in the conduct that is considered a crime, regardless of whether a conviction occurs or not.  Clearly this proposal is meant to avoid the high standards placed on the prosecution in criminal matters, and place the focus on substantiated conduct of the officer.

In addition, the board has added to the language regarding unauthorized use of deadly force an additional standard that officers may not engage in “excessive force when not authorized.”  Given the number of complaints received by departments regarding the use of force by officers, this proposal may increase the instances in which the board could revoke a peace officer’s license.

Now, these proposals are only that – proposals.  They still need to be adopted by the board to become part of the administrative rules governing the board, and there is bound to be significant resistance to the proposed changes by both members of the board, law enforcement advocacy groups, and the POST licensees, who do have the opportunity to have their voices heard with regard to potential rule changes.

We will stay attuned to any developments with these proposed changes, as they will have a significant impact on peace officers’ abilities to meet the minimum qualifications of their positions.  If you, or your organization, need advice on working with the POST board, and the application of its rules, contact Wiley Reber Law, for experience that works.