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Licensing board approves new policies for Minnesota police on misconduct, protest response

Plus: home explosion in Princeton leaves one dead, two injured; state Rep. John Thompson apologizes to St. Paul police sergeant he accused of racially profiling him; Twins trade Nelson Cruz; and more.

Stephen Montemayor writes in the Star Tribune:Minnesota’s police licensing board approved new model policies on officer misconduct and protest response on Thursday, but acknowledged its limited ability to address violations. The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board advanced the new policies in its first meeting since the Legislature adjourned amid demands for more action on police accountability reforms. But under its existing rules, the board can only enforce violations by police chiefs and sheriffs, not by individual law enforcement officers. ‘That still blows my mind,’ said Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy, the POST Board’s chairwoman. ‘I think there is such a big gap between what the public expects a licensing board to do and what we have the ability to do.’”

For MPR, Nicole Mitchell says, “The drought continues to worsen across Minnesota, and the hot, mostly dry conditions forecast through the end of July provide no relief to the dire situation.  The latest drought monitor came out Thursday morning with data compiled through Tuesday, and although not surprising, the news is not good. Just in the past week, severe drought has expanded from 52 percent of Minnesota up to 72 percent of the state. This is especially startling given that at the start of June less than 1 percent of the state had any severe drought areas.”

Jeff Wagner reports for WCCO-TV: “One person was killed and a man and a woman were injured in a home explosion Thursday afternoon north of the Twin Cities. …First responders arrived to find a collapsed home fully engulfed in flames. A 39-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man suffered unspecified injuries in the blast, while a third victim was found dead after the fire was put out.… The State Fire Marshal’s Office is working to determine if it was a gas explosion or an explosion from a residential propane tank.”

MPR News reports:Authorities have released new information about a suspect vehicle in a fatal shooting on a Twin Cities freeway. Jay Boughton, 56, died July 6 after being shot by someone in another vehicle while driving on U.S. Highway 169 in Plymouth. Plymouth police on Thursday said they now believe the suspect vehicle is a 2015-2020 silver Chevrolet Suburban LT and released new images of that suspect SUV.”

Also from WCCO-TV: “The St. Paul Police Department says embattled state Rep. John Thompson has apologized to the sergeant he accused of racially profiling him during a traffic stop earlier this month. The department said Thompson showed up to the Western District offices ‘unexpectedly’ and had a ‘very brief’ conversation with the sergeant.”

Related. Tom Hauser reports for KSTP-TV: “The apology comes on the same day there’s new scrutiny of allegations of domestic abuse involving Thompson. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS obtained evidence photos from a 2004 case at an Eagan apartment complex. The incident report by Eagan Police back then portrays an argument that turned violent and life-threatening between Thompson and a woman, in the presence of three children.”

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Also for MPR, Brian Bakst writes: “The two biggest state employee unions struck new agreements early Thursday with negotiators from Gov. Tim Walz’s administration, setting up thousands of workers for raises and a new paid holiday. The Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) department confirmed the two agreements were finalized around 2:30 a.m. They cover the bulk of the state’s workforce and are subject to ratification votes by rank-and-file as well as the Legislature.”

Also for WCCO, Erin Hassanzadeh reports: “A Menards employee was killed on the job Thursday morning in an accident at its Golden Valley store. Golden Valley police say a caller reported that a man was pinned under a forklift and was unconscious. When officials arrived at the store just after 10 a.m., they found he had been killed when a pallet of lumber fell on the forklift he was operating. A representative for Menards told WCCO the man was certified to operate a forklift, but his family is saying otherwise, alleging that he was not trained. A woman who says she is the victim’s brother posted a video online, saying he was 19 years old and just started working there.”

Another KSTP-TV story says, “A man allegedly broke into and stole an item worth $3,000 at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum on Wednesday. According to university police, at 7:40 a.m., officers responded to the Weisman Art Museum to check on an intrusion alarm in one of the rooms. Once officers arrived, they saw a smashed window and immediately saw a suspect running through the first floor. Police said the item that was taken values at $3,000.”

The AP reports: “Sanford Health announced Thursday it is making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all its employees, citing the spread of more contagious variants. The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based health care system, which has extensive operations in Minnesota and the Dakotas, is requiring all workers to get shots by Nov. 1. More than 90 percent of clinicians and 70 percent of nurses in the organization are already fully vaccinated, system officials said.”

Betsy Helfand writes for the Pioneer Press: “There are no words to describe what Nelson Cruz’s presence has meant to the Twins over the course of the past three seasons. And there are no words to describe what his absence will mean to the team, either. The Twins’ long-expected selloff officially began on Thursday as the club shipped Cruz and minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handed pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. ‘It’s hard to leave family behind and in this case, move to a different park, go to a different organization,’ Cruz said. ‘I feel like this was my family and we’ve been through a lot through the years. Definitely, it’s heartbreaking.’”

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