Officials Present New Protective Gear Policy with Police Chief, Community

Policy born out of nearly one year of meetings, and over 30 hours of discussion.

DULUTH, Minn.- After 10 months of 12 meetings, the Duluth Police Policy Working Group presented its Protective Gear Policy to Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken, with the public having the chance to share their questions and concerns.

The Policy Working Group consisted of 20 members from groups including the Duluth Citizen Review Board, Duluth NAACP, Homeless Persons Bill of Rights, and others.

People were less emotional than when the council voted in favor of purchasing the gear in October 2018. That’s when some shut down that City Council meeting.

But on Monday the tone was much calmer at Denfeld High School.

Briefly, the policy states that police are to employ the gear in the event of a civil disturbance, unlawful assembly, or crowd control to protect people and property.

According to Tusken, the almost one year of prep time allowed them to construct the policy with many perspectives in mind.

“One of the things that happened was the understanding that happened on both sides. Got our staff to have understanding of community concerns and for community concerns to have understanding of the police officers’ concerns,” the Chief said.

He added that the move to get new gear was purely preventative, to replace the old, mismatched gear the Department already possessed. They hope to never use it.

“Other than one event in the last decade we’ve used it and it was only a partial use, we don’t intend to use it.”

Those at the meeting said thoughts on buying the new gear changed since it was first introduced in council years ago.

“The first thing that came to my mind was: ‘this is for black people isn’t it?'” Tyrone Permenter said, recalling his conversation with Citizen Review Board Chair Archie Davis. “He said ‘what you mean?’ Riot Gear, think about it.”

But now, his opinion’s changed. “I’m ok with it. Like I said it’s all about security, and as long as the Police doing what they doing right now, communicating with Duluthians like they’re supposed to do, a riot not gonna happen,” he said.

“It’s for us. It’s not for the police, it’s for us.”

Officials discussed the policy with the public both openly and in small groups at Monday’s meeting. They also accepted comment cards to get in touch with people with more answers in the future.

The policy was officially handed over to Chief Tusken, though still has to be signed by the Duluth City Council before going into effect.

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