The state of Minnesota has allowed hundreds of police officers to keep their law enforcement licenses even after being convicted of a crime, according to a Sunday report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Tribune investigated criminal convictions against Minnesota police officers since 1995 and found that of the 534 convicted officers, three-quarters were never disciplined by the state, four-fifths kept their licenses, and more than 140 are still cops. The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), which handles law enforcement license removal, blames the inaction on disciplinary boards lacking jurisdiction over certain criminal convictions.
Virtually all of the officers that kept their jobs were convicted of crimes that fall outside of the POST board’s jurisdiction, according to Board Director Nathan Gove. As a result, discipline falls to local sheriffs and police departments, which have proven overwhelmingly sympathetic toward their officers.
“This is a ’70s model,” Tim Bildsoe, the POST board’s civilian chairman, told the Tribune. “We need to find ways to capture more individuals that are falling through. Now is the time for the Legislature to take this up.”
Roughly half of the 534 convictions were alcohol-related, which aren’t handled by the POST board. In many cases, departments fire these officers only to have police unions force chiefs to rehire them.
Deputy Richard Ohren was convicted of a gross misdemeanor in 1998 and had his law enforcement license suspended for three years. Following his reinstatement, he had another DWI in 2015 after refusing to take a breathalyzer test. His police department fired him only to have a police union intervene, forcing the county to rehire Ohren in 2016.
Fifth degree assault and on-duty offenses like excessive use of force are also outside the POST board’s jurisdiction, and even if departments are successful in firing the offending cops, retaining their licenses means those same officers can work for other police departments.
The POST board did not respond in time for publication to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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