The fatal shootings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile by Minnesota police officers sparked weeks of protest and loud calls for change.
There was concern that officers lacked adequate training to ratchet down tense situations. And there was grumbling that police forces didn't reflect the communities they patrolled.
The Legislature is now poised to respond.
As part of Gov. Mark Dayton's budget, there is a $10 million recommendation to provide for more-regular courses in crisis response and other money to diversify departments.
• Police training: How do officers make sound judgments in the field?
"For the first time, law enforcement has come forward and said we want you to mandate these kinds of training," said Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL- Brooklyn Center. "Now we'll have this mandate of crisis response, conflict management and cultural diversity training."
Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said police leaders see it as an opportunity.
"Quite frankly, I think from the training we're going to see from a use-of-force standpoint all over Minnesota with these additions, you're going to see use of force re-engineered to include these specific learning objectives," he said.
The learning objectives are being developed by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board. They would include crisis intervention drills and tips for dealing with people exhibiting mental illness. Some DFL lawmakers say community groups outside of law enforcement deserve to have a say in crafting the objectives. And they want lessons about implicit bias to be among them.
Clarence Castile reflected last month on the fatal shooting of his nephew Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop last summer.
"When this thing that happened to my nephew, the first thing I thought is, 'This guy wasn't trained well. He didn't know how to handle himself,'" Castile said. "He just overreacted in the situation because he wasn't trained properly."
The officer faces criminal charges in the case.
Democratic Sen. Dan Schoen is a cosponsor of a training bill. He's also a Cottage Grove police officer.
He said effective training involves role playing and periodic refresher courses.
"If you're an officer, you want this stuff. You want the opportunity to hone your skills and to do a better job," Schoen said. "There is nothing more devastating to an officer than having to take another person's life, even if it is to save your own."
One of the issues for departments has always been affording the extra training. State reimbursements to local governments have covered $300 per officer. That would be bumped up to $1,000.
House Public Safety Finance Committee Chairman Tony Cornish, a Vernon Center Republican, has signed onto the effort, and that should lift the initiative's chances. But he is also trying to keep expectations in check.
"Keep in mind that even though we're increasing the amount per officer this still won't go to the amount that the cities and local governments, sheriffs and local governments spend across the state," he said.
Separately, there are proposed grants in play to recruit and train officer candidates with non-traditional backgrounds.
Potts said the money could be used to foster ethnic diversity in departments or something else. "There's no set definition for it," he said. "It kind of depends on where you're from right now in Minnesota. Nontraditional in a smaller city in Minnesota could mean somebody who is working in a different career field."
Rep. Ray Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, wants to see a more-concerted outreach effort to boost racial diversity in departments.
"To actually get out into communities, to talk to individuals, to try to present maybe a different way of thinking about being a police officer than often times what we see on the news at 10 o'clock at night," Dehn said.
Riham Feshir contributed to this report.