St. Anthony seeks applicants to look at police policy

After a number of requests from residents and protesters, the city that employs the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights July 6 is taking steps towards possible police reform.  

The St. Anthony City Council discussed two topics on the matter at its Sept. 27 meeting, nearly three months after Castile, an African-American school cafeteria supervisor, was fatally shot by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop on Larpenteur Avenue.

The council unanimously supported the creation of a Tri-City Work Group, partnering with Lauderdale and Falcon Heights — both of which contract police services through St. Anthony.

The group will work out policies regarding police body cameras to potentially be used by St. Anthony police officers.

St. Anthony will contribute two residents and two council members to the Tri-City group while St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth will co-chair the group with members selected by the cities’ mayors.

State law requires police departments to have policies in place regarding body cameras before the cameras can go into use. While the Tri-City group will be discussing body cameras, it’s not a forgone conclusion that St. Anthony or its police department will decide to use them, St. Anthony Mayor Jerry Faust pointed out. 

Another group also received support by the council: the Work Group for an Initiative on Institutional Racial Bias in Policing, appearing via a proposal from the St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action.

“This is an initiative I think that we want to engage in,” Faust said during the meeting, noting that both himself, council member Jan Jenson and city manager Mark Casey would participate in the resident-run group.

St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action also met with Mangseth and said that he expressed an openness to working with the group.

The St. Anthony Police Department announced Sept. 30 that it is taking its own steps to enhance its existing data collection program in regards to documenting race and gender demographic data.

“Our officers have already been collecting more data than is legally required of us and more than many other police departments have done,” Mangseth said in a statement. “The changes we are making builds on our ongoing commitment to be transparent and accountable.”

The new system went into effect Oct. 1 and aims at better aligning data collection with programs other departments in the area have been implementing, allowing for better coordination between separate law enforcement departments with the goal of clearer analyzation of traffic stops and incidents that may or may not be race-related.  

“The issues and challenges our communities face extend beyond the borders of any one city,” Mangseth said. “It is important to make sure the data we collect is consistent with information other departments are collecting to help us develop a more comprehensive understanding of race, gender and other issues that are important and complex.”

The city will accept applicants from St. Anthony residents for the Tri-City group for two weeks; the last day to submit an application is Oct. 17.

“This work will begin soon,” Faust said.

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at @JPooleNews.

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