Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is adding a new liaison for families of those killed or injured during encounters with law enforcement amid a statewide debate about the use of lethal force by police.
The position, referred to as a “victim, family and community relations coordinator,” is the first of its kind to be deployed full-time at the agency. It is also the first initiative related to deadly police encounters since the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s Office launched a working group on the issue in July.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the idea stems from earlier conversations with relatives of Philando Castile, one of whom is on the 16-member working group that has met three times this year.
“If it was me or my family, this is exactly what I would want to have,” Harrington said. “I would want to have someone who is a dedicated resource … a person they can count on knowingly and knowledgeably to help them understand the system that they are unfortunately in the middle of.”
The working group also is looking at how police shootings are investigated, the use of body cameras and how officers are trained to respond to incidents involving mental health crises. The group will issue a report on suggested policy changes to the Legislature in February.