Updated: June 26, 2020 06:05 PM
Created: June 26, 2020 05:47 AM
Friday, the Minneapolis City Council advanced its plan toward creating a new vision for law enforcement following the death of George Floyd.
Earlier this month, several council members said it was time to dismantle the entire police department.
Friday morning, the council's first proposal was discussed and advanced.
The proposal will now be discussed by the Minneapolis Charter Commission at its July 8 meeting and the City Council's Policy & Government Oversight Committee at its July 9 meeting.
President Lisa Bender said the goal is to change the charter and get it on the ballot for a public vote this November.
"We have an urgent need to fix the broken issues in our police department right now and it has to happen at the same time we're building up systems of safety," Bender said.
The current charter states there has to be a police department but a proposed amendment replaces that with a "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention" that would prioritize a “holistic” and “public-health oriented” approach.
It does provide a law enforcement division with some licensed officers to respond to violent calls in progress.
Many discussions have focused on violence prevention programs and even sending mental health professionals or social workers to some types of calls.
"For people to say that your moving too fast, and for people to demand absolute clarity...and to try to imagine all the ways there might be a lack of clarity in something that hasn't been tried before, I want to frame us in that that we are trying something bold, it's going to take courage and creativity," Ward three city council member Steve Fletcher said.
Ultimately, it's the voters who would have to decide to start the conversation about a new public safety system without the Minneapolis police department.
Velma Korbel, director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, supports the move.
"I think we all understand the urgency to make the changes being demanded by the community because it's pretty obvious from all of our perspectives—whether you are council, mayor, community, legislature—that the current model of policing is not serving all of our residents," Korbel said.
Although the Minneapolis police chief and mayor said they are committed to making police reforms, they have both strongly opposed abolishing the police department entirely.
"We need to see a clear vision and clarity...we need to be clear and precise about what we're going to do and when...this amendment to our legal city charter doesn't provide clarity," Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Plus, a recent spike in crime is also raising concerns over the future of policing in the city.
Friday afternoon, Frey posted a series of tweets, saying:
I have serious concerns with the charter amendment proposed today. There are critical questions that demand answers.
It's still unclear whether we're asking voters to abolish the police, or if this proposal includes officers.
Under this proposal is Chief Arradondo still in charge of public safety? Or would he be demoted and answer to 14 officials?
If there are still police, how will this proposal move us toward structural reform? How would renaming or rebranding policing advance those reforms?
The one thing we do know: this deals a blow to accountability for policing in our city. Presently our residents know who to hold accountable – the mayor, for better or worse. This proposal sets the stage for finger-pointing in times of crisis and confusion at the ballot box.
Two years ago, a handful of council members proposed a similar amendment to require the Chief to answer to 14 different elected officials. We should listen when our chief provides feedback, and back then he stated that this would make his job more difficult.
We need change, but residents also need clarity from their elected leaders & a viable path forward. I favor full-scale public safety transformation & a complete culture shift in our police dept. Let's be clear in both purpose and intention. Let's move that hard work fwd together.
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