Minneapolis city charter explains process of governing, funding police

The Minneapolis city charter has been around for 100 years.

It’s similar to a constitution for local government and is overseen by a panel of 15 commissioners. They are everyday citizens who are appointed by the chief judge of Hennepin County.

Barry Clegg is the chairman of the Charter Commission and has seen a number of changes over the years. Monday, amid all the calls to defund, dismantle or disband the Minneapolis Police Department, Clegg explained what the process involves.

"The charter provides the mayor has complete power, and that’s the only place in the charter where those two words are used next to each other. The mayor has complete power over maintenance, establishment and conduct of police, but the City Council controls the purse, the budget."

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However, the mayor and council must follow the charter, which requires the establishment of a police department and the funding for it. The size of the force depends on the population, which is at a rate equal to .0017 times the number of residents. With a population of 420,000, the number of minimum officers allowed is 723. The current budget allows for 888 officers.

Clegg said for defunding to actually happen, the Minneapolis city charter would have to be changed.

There are a couple of ways it could happen, according to Clegg. A proposed amendment would need unanimous approval by council members and the mayor.

Or, it could be put on a ballot for the people to vote on in the next election. Clegg said anyone can propose an amendment.

"The clock is ticking for this November because it would have to be approved to be on the ballot no later than mid-July to be on a ballot by mid-November," Clegg said.

The charter stipulates it takes 51% of the vote to pass. As of Monday night, Clegg said an amendment hasn’t been proposed, but he told the other commissioners to be on standby in case a special meeting needs to be called.