Replace the Minneapolis Police Department? City Council to vote on ballot measure

·2 min read

The Minneapolis City Council is preparing a measure that would allow voters to replace the city's police department with a community-focused safety initiative, according to local reports.

The Minneapolis Policy and Government Oversight Committee, which is comprised of all 13 Minneapolis City Council members, approved the measure proposed by the advocacy group Yes 4 Minneapolis Committee in an 11-2 vote that will now be passed along to the general council for a vote, according to Fox 9 Minneapolis.

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If the City Council votes in favor of the amendment, it would appear on the general election ballot for Minneapolis residents on Nov. 2.

"Today's vote confirms what we've known all along: The people of Minneapolis are excited and ready to participate in their democracy to keep themselves and one another safe," the Yes 4 Minneapolis Committee wrote in a Wednesday tweet, "and that a handful of unelected people continue attempts to derail these efforts."

A City Council member told Fox News that members have been told not to advocate for or against the charter amendment in their official capacities.

The group's ballot measure proposal would replace the city's police department with a public safety department including licensed police officers, but it does not outline a detailed plan for how city leaders will do so. The plan would include "public health tools" such as mental health responders, substance abuse specialists, violence interrupters and violence prevention professionals.

The proposed ballot question reads: "Shall the Charter be amended to create a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach with a range of strategies and personnel, including licensed peace officers as necessary, to fulfill responsibilities for community safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?"

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The Yes 4 Minneapolis Committee delivered a petition to City Hall in April calling to replace the city's police department with more than 20,000 signatures. It then went to the City Council.

The city has been under pressure to overhaul policing after George Floyd’s fatal encounter with former Officer Derek Chauvin last year. Chauvin was convicted of murder and sentenced to 22 and a half years. A Justice Department probe into the department’s policing practices has compounded that pressure.

Councilmember Steve Fletcher told Fox 9 that he is "persuaded that this language is a version of describing the intention of the petitioner and 20,000 people who signed the petition saying they want to create a significant change and that we should put it on the ballot," referencing the Policy and Government Oversight Committee's vote to keep Yes 4 Minneapolis' language in the measure.

"So I'm going to go ahead and move for approval of language as is," he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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