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City may seek state action on police safety

A resolution supporting police officers that has garnered widespread attention will be back up for discussion Monday as the Red Wing City Council considers asking for state action.

Council members will be asked at their meeting to vote on a request to the area’s state lawmakers — Sen. Matt Schmit and Rep. Tim Kelly — to introduce a bill considering crimes against peace officers in Minnesota a “crime of bias” and to adequately fund a program that provides reimbursement for protective vests.

The proposal comes after the council approved a resolution at its Sept. 28 meeting that included a provision stating the city agrees with the National Fraternal Order of Police president’s efforts to expand the federal hate crimes law to protect police.

Council member Peggy Rehder said the council got questions as to whether it would pass a local ordinance to that effect, but said that lies with state and federal authority.

“That’s really what pushed it on to the second stage,” she said.

Federal laws control hate crimes, Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman noted. The crime of bias designation has to do with crimes against protected classes and the tracking and reporting that goes with them.

There already are enhanced penalties for assaulting or killing officers.

The original resolution got unanimous support at the Sept. 28 meeting. Several Red Wing Police officers were in attendance.

The resolution states in part that police officers’ uniforms “have made them targets by those who seek to kill or injure law enforcement officers simply because of their profession and commitment to duty.”

“This was solely done just to support officers that are doing the right thing,” Pohlman said Friday.

The issue has put Red Wing in the national spotlight, something Pohlman said came as a surprise. He said he has gotten a lot of feedback on the original resolution, and “it’s been mixed.”

“By far there’s been a lot more support than there has been people upset,” he said, though there are strong feelings on both sides.

Monday’s City Council meeting is 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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