Minneapolis mayor, City Council members at odds over police reform

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Tensions over crime and how to change policing in Minneapolis are boiling over between Mayor Jacob Frey and some City Council members.

What's happening: Several City Council members continue to pursue an ordinance to get rid of MPD and replace it with a new public safety department.

  • Frey has resisted that idea and instead focused his efforts on reforms.

  • He submitted written testimony for a legislative hearing this week asking for state changes to arbitration rules that would make it easier for police chiefs to fire bad cops.

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The other side: Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who represents North Minneapolis, wrote an open letter to Frey on Sunday criticizing him for ignoring a "group violence intervention strategy" the council passed in November.

  • "Are you okay with a mayor who knowingly endangers the lives of Minneapolis families and children by failing to come up with an effective strategy to address gang violence?" Cunningham wrote.

Frey fired back in a statement to KARE 11, saying Cunningham has "declined every opportunity to partner" and is now trying to "shift blame and save political face."

Frey also told WCCO-TV that the City Council's pledge to disband the MPD has negatively impacted crime in the city.

  • "When you make big overarching statements that we're going to defund or abolish and dismantle the police department and get rid of all the officers, there's an impact to that."

Of note: Crime is up in almost every big city during the COVID pandemic.

  • In Minneapolis, homicides in 2021 have already reached 26, up from 13 at this point last year and just seven at this point in 2019.

What's next: Yes 4 Minneapolis has turned in more than 20,000 signatures for a possible November ballot question about disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department and replacing it with a new public safety division.

  • The City Clerk's office is verifying the petition and will announce in the coming days if the group's proposal qualifies for the November ballot, according to the Star Tribune.

The bottom line: Frey and all 13 council members are up for re-election in November and as you might have already noticed, the races will be focused on policing.

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