Minneapolis residents to vote for MPD replacement

Minneapolis voters in November will have a chance to decide whether to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety.

The ballot question indicates that the new department would take a “comprehensive public health approach” to public safety, and notes that it could include licensed police officers.

Voters will also see an explanatory note on the ballot issue, pointing out that it would be headed by a new public security commissioner appointed by the mayor, but that the “mayor would not have full power over the establishment, the maintenance and command “of the department.

The citizen effort emerged after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police in May 2020. A coalition of progressive, community and racial justice groups by the name of Yes 4 Minneapolis has collected more than 20,000 signatures to place the amendment to the charter on the ballot.

Minister JaNaé Bates, director of communications for Yes 4 Minneapolis, said the process around the ballot issue has proven that the people of Minneapolis are excited to be part of redefining public safety, both as it relates to how the police interact with the community and for neighborhood safety.

“This whole campaign is getting people excited, we have been through more than a year now of hardships and growing pains and we have woken up to the realities facing the city,” said Bates. “This is the opportunity to discover truly incredible solutions. ”

Mayor Jacob Frey is in charge of the Minneapolis Police Department. Bates said the charter amendment only removes barriers that prevent the council from taking action for public safety.

“Of all the city’s many departments, the one department that currently makes national and world headlines for being abusive is also the only one over which the mayor has full oversight,” Bates said.

Frey opposes the charter amendment and said in a statement that it “would mark a major setback for accountability and good governance”.

“The mayor will not be signing the measure, but appreciates the painstaking work and in-depth analysis carried out by city staff to prepare fair and precise language for voters to consider this fall,” Frey said. Failure to sign will not prevent the question from appearing on the ballot.

Council chairwoman Lisa Bender praised town residents who collected the petitions after the proposal was approved by council by a 12-1 vote, with Lisa Goodman being the only non-vote, opening the way for the amendment to appear on residents’ ballots in November.

“Having seen a few of them, only a few during my tenure, it takes an incredible amount of work for people to put together the signatures, present them and craft the amendment,” Bender said.

Voting initiatives on two other subjects are still in the municipal council and will be heard again in committee on August 4.

City staff prepare ballot wording for two questions on rent stabilization. The first question would allow citizens to gather petitions to submit proposals on rent stabilization policies directly to voters. The second question would allow city council to formulate its own rent stabilization policies.

Another proposal, coming from the city’s Charter Commission, would change the city’s structure to give the mayor more power over the Minneapolis government. Minneapolis currently has what is known as a strong council and weak mayor system.

These questions must complete the board process by August 20 to appear on the ballot.

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