The Potluck

House Republican Leader proposes making it a crime to share personal information about a police officer

By: - January 26, 2021 8:44 am

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, addressed reporters on Oct. 19, calling for the state to fully reopen amid the pandemic. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, introduced legislation on Monday that would make it a misdemeanor to disseminate personal information about a police officer such as a home address, personal email address or photograph of the officer’s home or car if it could threaten his or her safety. Daudt’s proposal also increases the penalty for assaulting a police officer to a felony.

The move comes eight months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off a wave of protests across the country that at times became confrontational.

For example, in August, then-DFL House Candidate John Thompson joined dozens of other protesters in suburban Hugo to protest in front of Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll’s house. Thompson was recorded on video making inflammatory statements such as “Blue Lives ain’t s***” among other profanities.

Thompson was rebuffed by his party, which canceled a fundraiser because of his behavior, but he still handily won his election representing the Payne-Phalen neighborhood and East Side of St. Paul.

Following the protest, the city councils of Hugo and nearby Lino Lakes banned targeted protests outside private homes.

Daudt’s proposal goes a step further and opens up the possibility that the organizers of such protests could be charged with a crime for sharing the address of police officers if prosecutors show it endangered the police officer or their family members.

The proposed bill also comes a month after a St. Paul resident reported a police officer for getting into a truck with a Three Percenter sticker — a symbol of far-right militia movement — and shared the image on social media.

The image prompted swift backlash on social media, and prompted St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell to review department policies although the officer is likely free to display such a sticker on a personal vehicle.

Still, Axtell said he would “use it as an opportunity to educate all SPPD employees about the importance of considering the larger context of political issues, actions and organizations.”

Daudt did not respond to a request for comment.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.