The protests over George Floyd's death radiated out from south Minneapolis to the world. But in Minnesota, at least, they've so far failed to produce the tangible change that marchers demanded. The state legislature adjourned a recent special session without agreeing on long-sought policing reforms. It was a disappointing outcome but not surprising: The anger that erupted in recent weeks was, in part, the result of years of failed efforts to impose meaningful changes on the city’s police force.

But even as the legislature succumbed to its penchant for gridlock, its host city, St. Paul, is more than two years into a promising public-safety reform under the leadership of 41-year-old Melvin Carter, the city's first Black mayor. Carter would be the first to admit that the job is far from done. Yet at a time when other cities are struggling to match their reform rhetoric with plans and action, Carter and St. Paul have been pushing ahead.

St. Paul's current efforts actually have roots in the early 1970s. At the time, many Black residents felt "over-policed and underprotected” and tensions were high. In response, the city became a pioneer in "community policing,” a form of law enforcement in which officers are continuously assigned to a neighborhood to attempt to create a bond with residents.