In 2020, the eyes of the nation were on Minnesota. Minneapolis became the center of heightened tension between law enforcement and the communities they protect.
However, Minnesota is also a national leader on producing positive examples of community relationships with law enforcement. A Community OutPost (COP) is one great example.
Built in 2017, St. Cloud’s COP House began as a partnership between the St. Cloud Police Department, Mayo Ambulance, CentraCare Health, and Stearns County Social Services. The house serves as a gathering place for residents of St. Cloud to participate in community classes and public health services. Residents have the option of attending job training workshops or breastfeeding clinics. Events are held nearly every day, with up to hundreds of community members in attendance.
The COP House does more than simply offer services: it builds a bridge between law enforcement and the community they protect. Community members also get to know members of the police force on a personal level, establishing rapport, trust, and helping to build a stronger, more connected, and empowered community.
Congressman Emmer speaks on the House floor in recognition of the St. Cloud COP House, which received the Department of Justice’s L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award
COP Houses work.
In fact, they have a proven track record of reducing crime in the surrounding communities by up to 70% in some areas. The COP House creates a tangible reminder that law enforcement and the community share a common goal of safety and improving wellbeing. A strong community presence that goes beyond responding to emergencies has helped the St. Cloud Police Department foster meaningful and constructive relationships with community residents. This has cultivated an environment that encourages the men and women of St. Cloud’s Police Department to connect on a deeper level with the community they serve.
That’s why I introduced the Community Outpost Outreach and Engagement Act.
This legislation will establish a pilot program to promote the nationwide use of Community OutPosts to help law enforcement engage and communicate with residents in their surrounding communities.
You can read more about the bill here.
I am proud to announce that I have re-introduced the Community Outpost and Engagement Act for the 117th Congress. I hope that this legislation will give communities the tools they need to help strengthen relationships with law enforcement.