Updated: October 31, 2021 06:10 PM
Created: October 31, 2021 05:27 PM
Mark Lakosky, president of the Minneapolis firefighters union, said his organization does not support a contentious question on Tuesday’s ballot.
Question number two on the local ballot would essentially eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department as it currently exists and replace it with a Department of Public Safety.
“We just want to remind people that we, as firefighters, are also part of the public safety equation here in Minneapolis,” Lakosky said. “We respond to 'all calls involving violence such as domestics, shootings, stabbings and even personal injury car crashes and we think ballot question number two will affect response times negatively — not just for police, but for firefighters as well.”
Lakosky said firefighters who respond to calls that are considered dangerous often get there before police. Response times are critical and they keep getting worse as the number of police officers available to respond to those calls continues to decline.
“Right now, we are overwhelmed and response times are not what’s being expected,” said Lakosky. “And, that is no fault to us and no fault to police because they’re understaffed as everyone knows and so, like I said, we just thought it was time to speak out and let the citizens know that, look, fire is also public safety.”
The coalition of community groups that pushed for and got question number two on the ballot “Yes4Minneapolis” issued the following statement in response to the Minneapolis Firefighters Association Local 82 union speaking out:
"We look forward to building a holistic public safety system where all of our first responders are as effective as Minneapolis Fire. What must be acknowledged is that the Minneapolis Fire Department has a department structure like every other working department in the city. This is unlike the Minneapolis Police Department, which by all metrics is a failing one, under review by the Federal Department of Justice, and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights - while under the exclusive control of the mayor. Surely, if the MFD created similar unsafe conditions for the city and its residents, it would be our hope that the union would be swift and decisive in putting human lives first and making similar concrete reforms and solutions, like City Question 2.”
Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company