ST. PAUL (AP) -- Petty thieves still won't be allowed to become police officers in Minnesota, the state's police licensing board decided.
Facing protest, the Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training reversed an earlier decision to ease rules that bar from law enforcement people convicted of misdemeanor theft, medical assistance fraud and failure to report maltreatment of vulnerable adults.
The board's votes were nearly unanimous, even though one member pointed out that dozens of other gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor offenses -- including check forgery and drunken driving -- never have disqualified candidates for police service.
Opposition to easing the standards came from DFL and Republican legislators, the State Patrol, sheriffs, rank-and-file officers and citizens. The only significant support came from the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.
St. Paul's Bill Finney, a prominent member of the association, proposed the theft change.
But even Finney's wife, POST board member and state criminal apprehension agent Linda Finney, voted against it Thursday.
Critics said it would erode confidence in the police, cripple prosecutions when testimony of thieves-turned-officers was impeached in court, and put law enforcement on a ''slippery slope'' of lax standards.
But others argued that it is unfair and foolish to disqualify people for a single minor infraction of theft under $200.
The board also moved to add domestic assault and promotion of prostitution to the list of disqualifying crimes, but it cannot take effect until after an administrative law judge conducts a public hearing July 25.
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