Council Unanimously Approves New Police Protective Gear Policy

Councilors praised the policy as a great product of a lot of hard work.

DULUTH, Minn.- The Duluth City Council unanimously approved a new policy for the use of newly purchased protective gear by the Duluth Police Department.

This effectively puts an end to public discussions on the policy, which began back in 2017 when Police Chief Mike Tusken proposed purchasing the gear to replace outdated ones.

Many councilors spoke on their reasons for supporting the policy.

Second District Councilor Joel Sipress echoed some concerns he heard throughout the process, namely a worry that police might forcibly disperse non-violent protesters with the gear.

Sipress emphasized the new policy addresses that successfully as not the case.

“This policy has strong language and strong protections against the forcible dispersal of nonviolent protesters,” he said.

“I don’t think any of us, not this council, not the public, not the police department, ever wants anything like that to ever happen in our city”

The policy was crafted by the Duluth Police Policy Working Group, after nearly 10 months of 12 meetings. They officially presented this policy to the Police Chief earlier this month.

Basically, the policy states that police can employ the gear when the chief declares the need for a “Level Four Response”. For example, an extreme civil disturbance, unlawful assembly, or crowd control that’s turned violent, to protect people and property.

Any changes to the policy that may arise in the future must go through the Citizens Review Board.

Councilors said it was the perfect show of cooperation between community members, the city, and law enforcement to properly handle rare events of civil unrest in the most protected way possible for the police and the community.

“The policy has been a long time coming, I’m glad that the working group spent so much time and thoughtful time,” Councilor-at-Large Zack Filipovich said.

“No policy is perfect, but my goodness, I think this one comes pretty darn close.”

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