Minnesota State directly addressing issues of racism and social justice
Tia Robinson-Cooper, EdD, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Inver Hills Community College, and Michael Birchard, associate vice president of equity and inclusion at Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College, are serving with more than 30 co-conveners and members on the Minnesota State Taskforce on Law Enforcement Education Reform.
The taskforce will examine current law enforcement education programs across the Minnesota State system with a focus on anti-racism and equity.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected for the important work of this taskforce,” Dr. Tia Robinson-Cooper said. “I look forward to providing a perspective that includes my lived experiences as a black woman as well as the work that I have done as a professional in higher education. I hope to gain from this experience the ability to impact societal and systemic change around the realities of the negative relationship between law enforcement and communities of color by taking an intentional approach to removing the presence of racism and implicit biases within the fabric of our institutions.”
“On Memorial Day, a relative of all of ours, George Floyd, was murdered by four Minneapolis police officers during his arrest,” Associate Vice President Birchard said. “These four police officers are all graduates of the Minnesota State system. In fact, roughly 80 percent of Minnesota law enforcement officers were educated in our system.”
Birchard noted that one officer involved in Floyd’s death is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Birchard added that from a historical perspective the relationship between BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities and law enforcement has not been good—hence the daily demonstrations.
“As leaders in MinnState, I think we have a chance to help change this dynamic,” he said. “There are many, including myself, that are calling on MinnState to review our curriculum and requirements for our Law Enforcement degrees and increase our cultural literacy expectations for individuals earning that degree.”
Below is the official Minnesota press release.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota, August 26, 2020 — Minnesota State has announced the formation of a Taskforce on Law Enforcement Education Reform. The Taskforce will lead a critical examination of current law enforcement education programs across the Minnesota State system using an anti-racism and equity-focused lens.
The action is one element of Minnesota State’s multi-prong approach to law enforcement education reform being taken in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
“The colleges and universities of Minnesota State are an essential resource for meeting the workforce needs of the state, including the workforce needs of professional peace officers,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “We are in a unique position to guide meaningful reform of law enforcement education. Our role will focus on directly addressing issues of racism and social justice by producing graduates who are culturally competent and ready to serve and protect ALL of our communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
The Taskforce will advise the Board of Trustees and system leadership on issues, initiatives, programming, and priorities relative to an anti-racist law enforcement education. The Taskforce will not only help to set priorities for Minnesota State regarding law enforcement education, but also has the potential to impact law enforcement across the state.
Co-convened by George Soule, Minnesota State Trustee, Dennis Olson, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, and Satasha Green-Stephen, associate vice chancellor of Minnesota State, the Taskforce is comprised of approximately 30 members representing a wide, diverse, and inclusive cross-section of external and internal key stakeholders.
“It is imperative,” continued Malhotra, “that, through this taskforce, we leverage collaborative partnerships with other entities engaged in law enforcement education and reform, including the POST Board, the University of Minnesota, K–12 partners, community organizations, citizen groups, police departments and precincts, political leaders, and other state agencies.”
Other elements of the Minnesota State approach to law enforcement education reform include:
- Conducting a quality assurance and program review of law enforcement programs at Minnesota State colleges and universities.
- Forming a law enforcement faculty community of practice that will conduct a review of POST Board standards and compile recommended changes.
- Developing a strategic plan for the recruitment and retention of faculty of color.
A total of 93 academic programs in law enforcement, criminal justice, and related fields are offered across 24 Minnesota State colleges and universities. Approximately 86 percent of Minnesota graduates in law enforcement graduated from one of the Minnesota State colleges or universities.
# # #
With approximately 86 percent of Minnesota’s graduates in law enforcement graduating from one of the Minnesota State colleges or universities, we recognize our important role in advancing meaningful reforms in law enforcement.
While education alone is not the entire solution to police reform, it is a piece of the puzzle, and Minnesota State is seeking to make the needed changes in our law enforcement and criminal justice programming to develop and prepare our graduates for the important work ahead.
Comprised of members representing a wide, diverse, and inclusive cross section of external and internal key stakeholders—including leaders and professionals in or affiliated with law enforcement, community partners, government representatives, as well as faculty, staff, and students—the Minnesota State Taskforce on Law Enforcement Education Reform will examine and advise on issues, initiatives, programming, and priorities relative to an anti-racist law enforcement education.
The taskforce will not only help to set priorities for Minnesota State regarding our law enforcement education, but also has the potential to impact law enforcement across the state.
With a focus on the following approaches, the taskforce will meet several times over the fall 2020 semester and will ultimately submit its recommendations and priorities to the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Devinder Malhotra.
Learn more about Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at Inver Hills by contacting:
Criminal Justice Faculty