St. Paul mayoral candidate Melvin Carter proposed a policing plan Wednesday aimed at increasing oversight of officers, adding mental health workers and creating a more diverse police force.
Flanked by former Police Chief William Finney and Clarence Castile, the uncle of police shooting victim Philando Castile, Carter said officers need to be trained in de-escalation and there needs to be more oversight of situations where an officer points a gun at someone.
“All over our country and certainly throughout our city there’s a sense that we want greater relationships, we want greater trust,” Carter said, adding that he would hire diverse St. Paul residents who know the city’s neighborhoods to work for the Police Department.
Carter offered his policing plan outside of City Hall. He backed the removal of police from the oversight commission that reviews complaints of officer misconduct and called for more details to be included in the annual public report on police complaints and outcomes.
Council Member Dai Thao noted that he was one of the driving forces behind the removal of police from the board last year. Thao said much of what Carter proposed is already occurring. Ramsey County mental health staff members often go out with police on calls, officers get de-escalation training and a new academy was launched this year to diversify the force.
Carter also said the city should address crime by investing in communities. Many mayoral candidates, including Elizabeth Dickinson, Tom Goldstein and Pat Harris, also shared that idea at a candidate forum Tuesday night. They said the city could reduce crime by providing more services to support families and get youth jobs.
Harris, whom the police union endorsed, issued a policing plan last week that includes monthly meetings between the community and public safety leaders. He also wants to fully fund the department, spend more money on mental health and implicit bias training, and increase diversity on the force.
“Public safety should be every public official’s top priority, but it is also essential that every member of our community feels safe calling the police,” Harris said in a statement.
Harris plans to give more specifics on how he would prevent gun violence at a news conference Monday at the police department’s eastern district station.
Thao said Wednesday the city needs to add six to 10 officers a year to reach the right ratio of residents to police in the growing city.
“What we don’t see in here is providing additional funding for our police officers,” Thao said of Carter’s plan.
Carter said he would work with the police chief and the community to determine the proper size of the department.