Minneapolis Council Seeks to Replace Police with Department of Public Safety

Libby | July 26, 2021

The Minneapolis City Council voted on Friday to add a question to the November ballot that would replace the city’s police department with the Department of Public Safety.

After a 12 to 1 vote by the council, the ballot question was sent to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office for approval by Thursday, July 29 — either by signature or failure to veto — and if approved, will be added to the November ballot.

If implemented, the city will change the name of police officers to “peace officers” and will create a “comprehensive public health approach to public safety,” according to the advocacy campaign Yes 4 Minneapolis.

The specific ballot question voters would choose “yes” or “no” on is the following:

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach, and which would include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?

Though the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign admits that crime has been on the rise in the city, they defer to the need to address “root causes” of the spike.

“Police violence is evident while communities are also seeing overall violence on the rise, 9-1-1 response times differ based on your neighborhood,” the website states, “and we still have not addressed the root causes of crime and violence, like poverty, unstable housing, and inequitable access to good schools.” 

This rise in violence, Frey admitted, could be a result of the movement to defund the police.

“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,” the Democratic mayor said of the crime spike, according to CBS Minnesota.

The amendment would also give the city council the ability to determine the amount of “peace officers” rather than the current population-based number, Townhall reported.

The future of this amendment is murky, however, as Frey has released a statement saying he will not sign the measure.

“The mayor will not be signing the measure, but appreciates the careful work and thorough analysis done by City staff to prepare fair and accurate language for voters to consider this fall,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, according to Fox 5.

Though he does not plan to sign it, Frey may allow it to push through and let the voters decide by avoiding a veto by Thursday.