MPR Debate: U.S. Senator Tina Smith Believes We Need Systemic Reforms to Policing So That Every Minnesotan Feels Safe in Their Communities

ST. PAUL [10/2/20]–U.S. Senator Tina Smith believes that we need systemic reforms to policing so that all Minnesotans–including Black, Brown, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC)–feel safe in their communities. That is why Sen. Smith helped introduce the Justice in Policing Act.

Following the murder of George Floyd, Sen. Smith helped introduce legislation, the Justice in Policing Act, which would create a federal use of force standard and a national registry of police misconduct, and lay out steps our nation needs to take in order to reimagine policing so that we prevent police violence and injustice. Sen. Smith also introduced her own legislation, the Supporting Innovation in Public Safety Act, which would help state, local, and Tribal governments reimagine policing in their communities by funding innovative projects to change how we deliver public safety. The bill would empower local communities to pursue projects that improve public safety through systemic change, rather than by increasing police budgets.

Sen. Smith does not support defunding the police, despite false claims from her Republican opponent Jason Lewis.

Lewis says one thing, but while in Congress Jason Lewis voted against over $275 million in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, critical funding that Sen. Smith helped secure.


Smith Introduced The Supporting Innovation In Public Safety Act, Which Would Help State, Local, And Tribal Governments Reimagine Policing In Their Communities By Funding Innovative Projects And Best Practices That Will Transform How We Deliver Public Safety And Other Social Services. [S.4466, 8/6/20]

Smith Helped Introduce The Justice In Policing Act Of 2020, The First Comprehensive Legislative Approach To Ending Police Brutality And Changing The Culture Of Police Departments. “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and 31 of their Senate colleagues in introducing sweeping police reform legislation.The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is the first comprehensive legislative approach to ending police brutality and changing the culture of law enforcement departments by holding police accountable in court for misconduct, increasing transparency through better data collection, and improving police practices and training. In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Booker and Harris, the bill was cosponsored by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), […] Tina Smith (D-MN), ” [WVVA, 6/8/20; S.3912, 6/8/20]

Smith Helped Introduce The Justice For Victims Of Lynching Act. On February 14, 2019, Smith helped introduce The Justice For Victims Of Lynching Act. “The bill establishes a new criminal civil rights violation for lynching. Specifically, a person who conspires to commit certain civil rights offenses (e.g., a hate crime act) is subject to criminal penalties.” [S.488, 2/14/19]

Smith Helped Introduce The Eric Garner Excessive Force Prevention Act, Which Would Prohibit Chokeholds And Other Tactics That Restrict Blood Flow To The Brain. “Chokeholds or maneuvers that restrict oxygen intake or blood flow to the brain could soon be outlawed under new Senate legislation. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand from New York introduced the Eric Garner Excessive Force Prevention Act, which would ban these tactics under federal civil rights law. Some police departments have prohibited, limited, or discouraged the use of such maneuvers. But, according to a release, there is no federal ban, nor is there a national standard on what constitutes excessive force. This comes on the heels of global protests against police brutality and institutional racism, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. […] Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tina Smith, and Amy Klobuchar are original co-sponsors of this legislation.” [WENY, 6/5/20; S.3895, 6/4/20]

Smith Co-Sponsored The End Racial And Religious Profiling Act. [S.2355, 7/31/19]

Smith Co-Sponsored The Police Training And Independent Review Act. “The Police Training and Independent Review Act would create a financial incentive for states to require training for law enforcement officials on fair and impartial policing as well as best practices for working with members of the community who are disabled and mentally ill. It would also encourage communities to use independent prosecutors to investigate law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force by authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to award grants to states that require an independent investigation and, if warranted, prosecution in cases where one or more of the alleged offenses result in death or serious bodily harm. This legislation is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).” [S.1938, 6/20/19]

Smith Helped Introduce The Stop Shackling And Detaining Pregnant Women Act. [S.648, 3/5/19]

Star Tribune: Smith: “It Is Clear That We Need To Reimagine Policing In A Way That Emphasizes De-Escalation And Community Engagement.” “Smith’s campaign issued a statement Monday afternoon saying she doesn’t support abolishing the police. ‘It is clear that we need to reimagine policing in a way that emphasizes de-escalation and community engagement. This is how we fulfill the fundamental promise that everyone feels safe in their home, on the streets in their neighborhood, and in their community,’ Smith said.” [Star Tribune, 6/22/20]

Star Tribune: “Smith Said She Favors Reforms But Not Abolishing The Police.” “U.S. Senator Tina Smith, a DFLer who has served since 2018, faces a GOP general election challenge from former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis. Both have won their party endorsements but still face several primary challengers on Tuesday. The two sparred this week at FarmFest over the federal government’s role in the farm economy. Lewis is a strong critic of Gov. Tim Walz’s pandemic mandates, which Smith supports. The two candidates also have battled over calls to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Lewis has campaigned on a staunch pro-police platform, while Smith said she favors reforms but not abolishing the police.” [Star Tribune, 8/6/20]

WCCO: Smith Referred To The Looting And Vandalism As “The Evil That [Was] Destroying And Burning And Desecrating The Community That We Love So Much.” SMITH: “I stand here with humility. With love for my beloved community, with commitment to do justice for George Floyd, with a painful, painful awareness of the hard work ahead in our community to root out the racism that is too much a part of our state. And I stand here with anger at the evil that is destroying and burning and desecrating the community that we love so much. I am here to listen to these community leaders, to take counsel, and to ask my fellow Minnesotans to raise your voices in righteous protest. That is how we change the state and this country so that it is worthy of all of us. And then I ask you to go home by 8:00 so that we can keep our neighbors and ourselves and our beautiful community safe. I would now like to welcome Mary Merle up to the podium.” [WCCO, 39:40, 5/30/20]


Lewis Voted Against The FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Package That Funded The Government Through September 30, 2018. In March 2018, Lewis voted against “Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., motion to concur in the Senate amendment to the bill with a further amendment that would provide roughly $1.3 trillion in funding for federal government operations and services through Sept. 30, 2018.” The bill was agreed to, 256-167. [H.R. 1625, Vote #127, 3/22/18; CQ, 3/22/18]

The Consolidated Appropriations Act Included $275,500,000 Million In Funding For The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. H.R. 1625: “Community Oriented Policing Services  – community oriented policing services programs  – (including transfer of funds) – For activities authorized by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-322); the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (“the 1968 Act”); and the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-162) (“the 2005 Act”), $275,500,000, to remain available until expended: Provided,That any balances made available through prior year obligations shall only be available in accordance with section 505 of this Act[.]” [H.R. 1625, Vote #127, 3/22/18; CQ, 3/22/18]

Smith Voted For The Consolidated Appropriations Package, And Requested Appropriators Fully Fund The COPS Hiring Program And Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program To Help Local Communities’ Abilities To Fight Crime. [H.R. 1625, Vote 127, 3/23/18; CQ, 3/22/18]

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