MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis City Council has taken another step in the process toward dismantling the city’s police department, following the death of George Floyd.
An ordinance has been introduced to remove the requirement for a police department from the city charter. The vote was unanimous, 12-0.
“We have committed to a community engagement process which is only just beginning. This vote, if it’s on the ballot in November, as I hope it is, gives the voters a chance to check in in the middle of that engagement process to tell us we are on the right track. I believe that’s the right thing for us to do, put it to the voters of Minneapolis to make this change,” council member Steve Fletcher said.
The charter amendment calls instead for “a department of community safety and violence prevention.” It also includes a provision for licensed law enforcement officers.
“As a charter department, the director would be nominated by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. The director would have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches,” the council reported in a press release.
The ordinance was reported to be authored by council members Jeremiah Ellison, Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher and Council President Lisa Bender. Click here to read the full text of the amendment.
The council seeks community input on how the system would respond to non-violent incidents, and after a lengthy legislative process, the charter amendment would go to a city-wide vote in November.
“We can change the name of public safety, the makeup, but until we really address racism, nothing is going to change,” council vice-president Andrea Jenkins said.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association quickly responded, saying they are “very concerned to see Minnesota’s largest city moving forward with its haphazard effort to dismantle the police department, which we fear will create an unsafe environment not only for residents, but also visitors, businesses, and employees that work and visit the city. Their proposal, in the midst of a drastic increase of violent gun crimes, is an unserious and disingenuous attempt to satisfy small political factions without providing real resources to address and prevent crime from happening in the city. If they were serious about making real change, they should be including feedback of peace officers and first responders into what really goes into public safety on a day-to-day basis.”