Minneapolis Has a New Proposal to Address Their 'Defund the Police' Goal

Posted: Jan 30, 2021 8:00 PM
Minneapolis Has a New Proposal to Address Their 'Defund the Police' Goal

Source: AP Photo/John Minchillo

After the death of George Floyd last year, Minneapolis was quick to say they were in favor of defunding the police. In fact, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) went on national TV to tout her city's "reimagining" of policing, which focused on having mental health professionals respond to 911 calls instead of cops. The city's "reimagination" is finally coming to fruition – but it might not be what people thought.

Three Minneapolis City Council members – Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder – put together a proposal that would disband the Minneapolis Police Department, but officers would still be utilized, the Star Tribune reported. The officers would fall under the newly-created Department of Public Safety which would be accompanied by "additional divisions" to help with the city's "comprehensive approach" outside of just law enforcement. What those divisions are and what they entail, however, is unknown.

"Rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all system that relies on police to simply respond to crime after it happens, this improved approach would more proactively and holistically address the causes of crime before harm is done -- and ensure police response is complementary to the City’s proven prevention and intervention approaches," an FAQ about the proposal states.

The proposal also removes the requirement for the department to have a minimum number of officers in relation to the city's population. Instead, the mayor and the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council would be given discretion to decide what's an acceptable number of police officers. 

"Minneapolis residents are imagining a comprehensive public safety approach that is more effective and more reflective of our values, and they are calling on the city to act," council member Steve Fletcher said in a statement. "This charter amendment creates a structure that supports that vision and allows our city to innovate."

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Mayor Jacob Frey agrees with the need to move towards a "comprehensive approach" but worries that officers won't be held accountable under the proposal. The three proposal writers argue the change would actually lead to more accountability. 

Two city council members brought forth a similar proposal last year, eliminating both the department and the minimum number of officers. The city's Charter Commission blocked the proposal from appearing on the November ballot by saying they needed more time to review. 

In order for the plan to go into effect, voters would have to decide whether or not to abolish the MPD and shift officers under the newly-created division.

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