'We want a seat at the table': MPD advocates praise Question 2 results, stay vague on openness to reforms | KSTP.com

'We want a seat at the table': MPD advocates praise Question 2 results, stay vague on openness to reforms

Sherral Schmidt, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, speaks during a Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, news conference to address voters' rejection of Question 2, which would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety. Photo: KSTP. Sherral Schmidt, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, speaks during a Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, news conference to address voters' rejection of Question 2, which would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

Ben Henry
Updated: November 03, 2021 08:35 PM
Created: November 03, 2021 08:21 PM

The union representing Minneapolis police officers showed gratitude Wednesday for the majority of voters who rejected Question 2, which would have replaced the city's police department with a new Department of Public Safety.

A record number of Minneapolis residents made their choices clear Tuesday during one of the most influential elections in city history. Along with choosing their next mayor, an argument can be made for ballot Question 2 being the biggest reason people voted. In the end, 56% of voters decided to keep the Minneapolis Police Department as-is.

“We appreciate the supportive community members who recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Sherral Schmidt, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.

“The Police Federation is invested in working with the police department, city leadership and other stakeholders to make the city of Minneapolis a safe place to live visit and work,” she added.

When asked what that could look like, or what the police union envisions the department will look like in the future following election night, Schmidt didn't have a clear answer.

“We're always willing and we want a seat at the table,” Schmidt said about working toward reforms to better the department. “There's been this false narrative out there that the federation is against reform, and that's not the case at all,” Schmidt said.

“We want the best police officers in the city and we want the best police department. So we all want the same things — bring us to the table [and] let's have the conversations together," she added.

The Police Federation wasn’t the only entity in town not wasting time letting the community know how they stand as the police department starts a new chapter.

Wednesday morning, the Unity Community Mediation Team held a meeting to address the work it’s been doing since 2003, and more recently in the last 18 months, to address the calls for change at the police department by community members. 

“We are also concerned about the 44% who voted 'yes,'” UCMT co-chair the Rev. Ian Bethel said.

“Truth be told, we all want the same thing and this morning we are seriously reaching out to you and asking for us to join us,” Bethel added.

Starting in 2003, the UCMT has been working with MPD to improve its policing and relationship with the community. Bethel said that effort was revamped after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

“There's a thread that lines this whole document, every section, and that thread is the sanctity of human life,” Bethel said about the action items aimed to improve the department.

A few of the focuses within those items include addressing accountability, improving transparency and making sure officers know how to handle mental health situations well.

As mentioned by Bethel, there was still a large population of Minneapolis voters who wanted the police department gone. Former City Council Member Don Samuels said, despite not supporting ballot Question 2, that momentum should be used carefully and effectively.

“Between those who categorically wanted reform and those of us who want both reform and adequate policing, there is a significant demand for change, Samuels told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

MPD didn't respond to a request for an interview with Chief Medaria Arradondo to discuss the department’s future.

What lies ahead for MPD will likely be shaped by a U.S. Department of Justice probe into the department’s “current system of accountability,” and a judge's ruling that Minneapolis must hire more police officers to fulfill the city's charter.

The judge made that decision during the summer after community members, including Samuels, sued the mayor and City Council demanding more officers to improve public safety.

The order calls for the department to have at least 730 sworn police officers; a day after the election, the Police Federation said the department has 597.


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