BEMIDJI -- Before the Bemidji City Council takes any action on creating a police advisory committee, the government unit is hoping to hear from constituents.

Next week, the council will hold a listening session and work meeting where it will consider what a task force related to the Bemidji Police Department would look like. To help in that process, the council is asking the public to submit answers to the following questions before the session:

  • Is there a need for a police advisory committee in the city of Bemidji?

  • If so, who should be a part of the committee?

  • What would you like the role and responsibilities of the committee to be?

  • What should the role be of the Bemidji Police Department and City Council in this advisory committee?

  • Do you feel there is a need for creating an equity committee?

  • If so, then do you feel this equity committee should be separate or incorporated into the police advisory committee?

  • How would a police advisory committee and/or an equity committee help make the city of Bemidji a better place to live?

While the council is seeking responses to these questions, members also said Monday that citizens don't have to limit their comments to being strictly about the above questions.

The upcoming session comes several weeks after protests took place in Bemidji following the death of George Floyd. Floyd was a Black man who died May 25 when then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck, despite repeated requests for the officer to stop.

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Bemidji is just one of the communities in the state and across the country to hold demonstrations since May.

The Aug. 10 meeting was scheduled in late June by the city's Public Affairs Committee. Originally, it was planned to be held at the Sanford Center. However, because of the increase in coronavirus cases, the council chose to hold the meeting digitally.

Written responses may be submitted prior to the public meeting to the City Clerk via mail, drop box, or in person at 317 4th St. NW, Bemidji, MN 56601 or by email at cityclerk@ci.bemidji.mn.us.

To request a link to the remote meeting access via video, email the city clerk. To call into the meeting and provide a testimony, call (218) 759-3570 for further direction.