Minneapolis City Council's charter amendment to replace MPD with new department of public safety moves forward | KSTP.com

Minneapolis City Council's charter amendment to replace MPD with new department of public safety moves forward

Minneapolis City Council's charter amendment to replace MPD with new department of public safety moves forward Photo: KSTP-TV.

Tommy Wiita
Updated: March 12, 2021 01:01 PM
Created: March 12, 2021 12:51 PM

The Minneapolis City Council voted on Friday to send the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment to the city's Charter Commission to review.

Friday's vote marks the next step in the city's normal process, as required by state statute, to amend the city charter to create a new department of public safety. The proposal is authored by city councilmembers Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Shroeder.

"The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment is built on the shared vision of a public safety system that provides services and responses as diverse as our constituents and their needs and keeps everyone in our city safe," Cunningham said in a statement. "This amendment reflects wide-ranging feedback from community members citywide over the past year."

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The amendment would include the following:

  • Establishing a new department of public safety to integrate and oversee a continuum of public safety efforts that prevent, intervene in, and reduce crime and violence to create safer communities for everyone in Minneapolis.
  • Removing the Minneapolis Police Department as a charter department, and establishing in its place a Division of Law Enforcement within the department of public safety made up of sworn peace officers responsible for the core functions of law enforcement.
  • Removing language in the current charter that mandates a minimum number of police employees. It would give Minneapolis the same freedom other Minnesota cities have to decide how to best meet our urgent needs of preventing, reducing and responding to crime.
  • Place the department of public safety under the purview of both the city council and the mayor, in line with other city departments. The current City Charter stipulates that the police department reports exclusively to the mayor, creating confusion in the community and reducing transparency and oversight.

"Generations of Mayors and Chiefs have pledged to reform our Police Department, and they have failed. We can't keep leaving this to the Mayor and the Chief to solve behind closed doors and expect a different result," Fletcher said. "The structure of our government has shielded the status quo for decades, and we're putting forward a way to re-write that structure and create the possibility for transformational change."

The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment is one piece of the city council's commitment to transform and broaden the public safety system in Minneapolis to keep everyone in the city safe. This comes after the city council unanimously adopted a resolution in June 2020 committing to transform public safety in Minneapolis. Since then, the council has invested in specialized mental health crisis response, expanded the Office of Violence Prevention, and shifted non-emergency calls to qualified city departments. The resolution committed the city to seek input from community members.

A city-led process is ongoing to gather feedback from community members on how to build a better public safety system. In addition, using our democratic process to allow Minneapolis voters to decide on the future of our public safety system is a direct and transparent way for residents to be heard.

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"The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment represents an opportunity to improve our City Charter and deliver better outcomes for the people of Minneapolis," Schroeder said. "Minneapolis voters ought to be able to decide through our democratic process whether they want a more expansive, effective public safety system. I look forward to giving them that opportunity at the ballot box this November."

Under state law, the Charter Commission has up to 150 days to review the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment and make a non-binding recommendation as to whether the council should move forward, reject the proposal, or replace it with an alternative. A Charter Commission recommendation is expected no later than the end of July, in time for the city council to add the amendment to the November ballot.


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