Community First Police Reform Initiative
Melvin Carter released his “Community-First Police Reform” initiative for greater public safety and improved trust between law enforcement and Saint Paul communities. To achieve these goals, Carter’s proposal would make essential reforms to current police practices to increase accountability and trust, implement innovative community policing strategies, and make the investments our community needs to prevent crime before it starts.
“Saint Paul residents have made clear that community safety is a top concern, but making our neighborhoods safer for everyone will require a new approach,” said Melvin Carter. “True community safety means preventing crime before it happens – by investing in strong neighborhoods – and ensuring that our police officers have the training, tools, and community connections they need to ensure greater safety for all Saint Paul residents.”
Carter’s “Community-First Police Reform” initiative is centered on the belief that strong, healthy communities – where families can afford to pay the rent and children feel hopeful about their futures – can prevent crime before it starts. To that end, the Carter plan would prioritize investments in community resources like recreation centers, libraries, and parks, which give kids and families the support and opportunities they need to thrive in Saint Paul.
“Over more than a decade as Saint Paul’s Chief of Police, I worked hard to recruit officers who reflect the diversity of our city, to build greater trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” said former Saint Paul Police Chief William Finney. “I believe Melvin Carter will continue that work as mayor.”
The Carter proposal calls for reformed hiring, monitoring, and civilian reporting practices, to ensure Saint Paul attracts and retains the very best to protect and serve our communities. Among the priorities of Carter’s plan is recruiting Saint Paul Police Officers who reflect and respect the diversity of our communities, as a means of building greater trust and understanding. Carter has also proposed an innovative use of new technology, to allow Saint Paul residents to submit formal feedback on officer performance electronically.
“I have worked firsthand with Melvin Carter to build greater trust and understanding between police officers and the communities they serve, so that no other family will have to experience what our family went through last year,” said Clarence Castile, uncle of Philando Castile. Mr. Castile serves as a Saint Paul Reserve Police Officer, Member of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, and Member of Governor Dayton’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations. “I know Melvin understands the challenges we face, and has the best plan to ensure greater safety and trust for everyone in our city.”
The “Community-First Police Reform” initiative would reform current policies governing the use of force by Saint Paul police officers, to ensure maximum safety and accountability for both officers and the public. These reforms would clarify the use of force in cases of simple noncompliance versus aggressive behavior; establish a responsibility for Saint Paul Police to deescalate a situation whenever possible; and increase oversight for incidents in which a police officer points a firearm at a civilian.
To ensure these reforms are successful in improving accountability and trust, Carter would also require the Civilian Review Board to present an annual report on complaints and their outcomes, including demographics, investigation time, and departures by the Chief of Police from the recommendations of the board.
FACT SHEET: Community First Police Reform for a Stronger, Safer Saint Paul
Melvin Carter has proposed a Community-First Police Reform initiative to improve public safety and trust between law enforcement and Saint Paul communities. Carter’s proposal would make essential reforms to current police practices to increase accountability and trust, implement innovative community policing strategies, and make the investments our community needs to prevent crime before it starts.
Reform Current Police Practices
Most Saint Paul police officers serve our communities honorably and bravely every day, earning the trust of the communities they serve. But some current practices create loopholes that make accountability difficult, eroding trust and safety for both communities and police. Melvin Carter has proposed a set of specific reforms to improve trust and safety for all Saint Paul residents.
- ATTRACT AND RETAIN THE BEST – To attract and retain the best officers, Carter would implement character-based hiring and promotion practices; create on-ramps for Saint Paul residents of diverse backgrounds to become police officers in their own communities; incentivize community service; and monitor repeated complaints against officers.
- REFORM USE OF FORCE – To ensure better safety and accountability for both officers and the public, Carter has proposed reforms to clarify the use of force to distinguish between cases of simple noncompliance and aggressive behavior; train officers in de-escalation techniques and establish a responsibility to de-escalate whenever possible; and increase oversight for incidents in which a police officer points a firearm at a civilian.
- INVEST IN MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS – Across the nation, police officers are asked to do more and more as cuts critical services leave people on the streets and at-risk to themselves, and to others. Carter would invest in partnerships with mental health professionals, social workers and crisis counselors, providing assistance to officers and relief to those struggling with mental illness.
Implement True Community Policing
Melvin Carter knows that strong communities have always been the foundation of public safety in Saint Paul. That’s why Carter’s “Community First Police Reform” initiative would implement innovative community policing strategies that put communities at the heart of our public safety.
- STRENGTHEN CIVILIAN REVIEW – Carter would empower the Civilian Review Board to act as a strong check on policing in Saint Paul. This includes keeping the board civilian-led, rather than police-driven. Carter’s “Community-First Police Reform” initiative would direct the board to present an annual public report on complaints and their outcomes, including demographic and geographic trends, investigation lag times, departures by the Chief of Police from the recommendations of the board, and cases overturned on appeal.
- PUT SAINT PAUL RESIDENTS FIRST – Carter’s proposal would defend Saint Paul’s status as a sanctuary city, and expand efforts to ensure that Saint Paul police reflect and respect all Saint Paul communities. Increased training opportunities, reformed hiring practices, and better opportunities for community input will drive this change. Carter’s proposal would also audit military-grade equipment received from the federal government, to ensure the city only maintains items for which we have a practical need.
- FIND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY – Carter’s “Community-First Police Reform” initiative would look at new ways to make technology work to improve public safety in Saint Paul. This includes making it easier for Saint Paul residents to report officer complaints electronically, and making it easier to report potential criminal activity through new technology channels.
Invest in Strong Communities Before Problems Start
Our greatest source of public safety is the strength of our communities. Carter knows that the best way to prevent crime is to invest in strong communities, where families can afford to pay the rent and children feel hopeful about their futures. Doing so will lay a foundation for success, and work to prevent crime before it starts, creating greater public safety for all Saint Paul residents.
- INVEST IN COMMUNITY RESOURCES – Carter’s public safety plan invests in public resources like recreation centers, libraries, and parks that strengthen community bonds and give young Saint Paul residents the opportunities they need to succeed in our city.
- REWARD OFFICERS WORKING IN COMMUNITIES – Carter’s Community First Police Reform initiative would reward police officers and other city employees who choose to work and volunteer in our communities, strengthening community bonds and building greater safety and trust.
- SUPPORT STRONG COMMUNITIES – Carter would invest in efforts to boost corridors of commerce and community, building places where people want to live, work, and thrive. These investments create better jobs, better opportunities, and better public safety for everyone in Saint Paul, while driving our economy forward.
Melvin knows that balancing a city budget is not just a math problem – it is a question of values.
In order to address the challenges that Saint Paul faces, we need to think of new ways to drive revenues and investments into our city. We cannot ask our residents to pay more than they can afford, but we cannot afford to cut the critical services our neighbors rely on.
We need to build our budget around our vision of the city for the next decade, not just the next budget cycle.
Saint Paul needs a mayor focused on bringing in new businesses to grow our tax base, rather than pitting taxpayers and city services against one another.
As Mayor, Melvin will:
- Maximize efficient, effective delivery of city services for all neighborhoods.
- Realign city departments to refocus on the people they serve.
- Join our legislative delegation to advocate strongly for more support at the State Capitol.
- Fast-track growth and job-creation by tapping into Saint Paul’s greatest asset: our own residents, workers, and entrepreneurs.
- Listen to community input to make smart decisions about raising revenue.
Melvin believes education is the single most important factor in determining the future of our city. That’s why he has spent his career working to improve education outcomes for kids and families, and it’s why he has a vision for creating comprehensive, accessible neighborhood supports so all Saint Paul kids can succeed.
Melvin believes that the greatest challenges we face as a city are symptoms of a historic failure to invest in public education. In order to have strong public schools that develop global citizens, we must reinvest in our students, the families that support them, and the workforce that educates them.
As mayor, Melvin will:
- Advocate for Pre-K and other early childhood investments, making affordable and accessible Pre-K a reality for every child in Saint Paul who wants it.
- Increase equitable educational opportunities, developing culturally competent curricula that fosters the learning of all our students.
- Treat diversity and bilingualism as an asset to maximize, not a liability to mitigate.
- Ensure learning doesn’t stop after high school, connecting students with post-secondary education opportunities and job training.
- Activate libraries and rec centers as early learning hubs and training centers.
Growth and Economic Opportunity
As Saint Paul continues to grow, the greatest challenge our city faces is to make sure that growth reaches all corners of our city – especially the neighborhoods that need it most. Melvin knows that we cannot reach our city’s full potential unless we realize the full potential that already exists within our city.
As Mayor, Melvin will be a champion for Saint Paul workers, advocating for a $15 minimum wage so that no one working full time in our city will have to live in poverty. He will also invest in affordable housing for seniors and families to make sure those who currently call Saint Paul home do not get priced out of the city they love.
Melvin also supports workers’ right to organize, collectively bargain, and hold employers accountable to prevailing wage agreements.
As Mayor, Melvin will:
- Make it easier for Saint Paul residents to open and run a business.
- Recognize economic and cultural centers across our city – like Payne / Phalen, District del Sol, and Little Mekong – and invest in the communities, small businesses, and infrastructure that make our city thrive.
- Support new growth along the Green Line and at the Ford Plant to preserve our historic neighborhoods and provide new housing and transit opportunities for new residents and those who have been here all their lives.
Public Safety and Police Accountability
Melvin believes that trust between police officers and the communities they serve is our most valuable public safety asset, and this trust has been badly eroded. If we are serious about public safety, we need to redefine what makes a community safe.
Melvin’s vision for a city that is safe for everyone starts with investments in community resources like recreation centers, higher wages to make sure everyone in Saint Paul makes a livable income, and a safe place to call home for every resident. Putting community first, that vision ends with a sufficiently staffed, funded, and well-trained police force that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve. Public safety is much bigger than the number of cops on a beat.
As Mayor, Melvin will:
- Hire police officers who reflect our city’s diversity, have a stake in our neighborhoods, and will work to protect and serve all of us.
- Hold officers accountable for conduct that does not match our Saint Paul values.
- Make sure officers are trained in de-escalation and are connected to social workers, mental health providers, and crisis prevention counselors to ensure people in crisis get the help they need.
- Build safety beyond policing by decriminalizing mental health and addiction issues, connecting families to resources, and helping communities define their own vision of safety.
Melvin believes we owe it to our children, grandchildren, and the future of our city to fight climate change and make sustainable choices about the challenges we face going forward.
The Twin Cities are projected to be among the regions hardest hit by continued climate change. Already, Saint Paul residents are experiencing more and more extreme weather events every year.
Saint Paul needs a mayor who will take proactive steps to improve sustainability, reduce the city’s carbon footprint, limit carbon emissions, and adapt to the significant challenges climate change will impose on our city.
As Mayor, Melvin will:
- Reduce our city’s carbon footprint by expanding transit, biking, and pedestrian opportunities citywide.
- Build green infrastructure, improve stormwater management, and protect our lakes and rivers from pollution.
- Invest in urban agriculture and production to reduce our carbon footprint, provide access to more fresh produce, and unlock economic opportunity, especially in communities with deep agricultural traditions.
- Reduce waste and inefficiency through organized trash hauling.
- Establish a culture of environmental responsibility within city government.
As Saint Paul continues to grow, we need to support greater transportation options for new residents and the people who have always called our city home. That includes investments in better transit service, good roads, and streets that are safe for people walking and biking in our communities.
Melvin believes that public transit is one of the best long-term investments our city can make to lower our cost of living, increase access to educational and economic opportunities, and stimulate economic growth, while reducing our carbon footprint.
Melvin supports transportation options that work for the neighborhoods they serve, including bus rapid transit and dedicated streetcar lines, and will make our streets safer and more accessible for everyone. As Mayor, Melvin will make sure city streets work for the people who live, work, and shop in Saint Paul, including those who walk and bike in our great neighborhoods.
- Design streets safe enough for kids to walk to school or bike to the corner store.
- Improve transit within our city to better connect workers with jobs, and expand service to connect Saint Paul to the airport and the greater East Metro.
- Make Union Depot into the bustling, vibrant regional hub it is meant to be.
- Make smart changes and investments to support economic opportunities along transit lines.