Crime

Council Takes Step Toward Vote To Abolish Police On November Ballot

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The Minneapolis City Council took the next step toward abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department on Wednesday despite skyrocketing violent crime in the city.

The advocacy group “Yes 4 Minneapolis Committee” had proposed an amendment to the city charter that would do away with the city’s police department and replace it with a public safety office with a “comprehensive public health approach,” KMSP reported.

However, the amendment does not define what that means or how it is supposed to be implemented.

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But passing the amendment out of committee and agreeing to put it on the ballot moved the needle on the movement to abolish the police department which had been largely stagnant since the city charter commission voted almost a year ago to take another 90-days to review the proposed changes to the city’s charter.

Minneapolis City Council members initially announced plans to disband the police department in the wake of riots throughout the city following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd while he was being arrested by the Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020.

On June 7, 2020, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced that they would vote to disband the city’s police department, KSMP reported.

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They proudly told supporters at a rally that they had the votes to override Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of the move, after the mayor came out against abolishing the city’s law enforcement agency.

But it turned out that the city council doesn’t have the power to disband the police department, nor can they tell it what to do, KSMP reported.

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The city charter requires the city council to fund the police department and details a formula as to how many police officers should be funded based on the city’s population. And then the city charter tasks the mayor’s office with full authority over the police department.

Right now, the city charter requires the council to fund 723 police officers, based on the most recent population estimates, KSMP reported.

So the movement to abolish the police department focused on getting changes to the city charter on the November 2020 ballot instead.

But in August of 2020, charter commissioners said the amendment put before them needed more work, WCCO reported.

Commissioners said that, as drafted, the amendment gave too much power to the Minneapolis City Council.

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They expressed concern the process had been rushed and complained it had been drafted without input from community opposition.

“It’s appropriate to explore transformational changes in the department, but it needs to be done thoughtfully,” Charter Commissioner Peter Ginder told WCCO. “That hasn’t been done here.”

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