Skip to main content

Disbanding Minneapolis police won't be quick, may require public vote

The city council is starting what is likely a lengthy process.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

While news that Minneapolis City Council intends to disband the city's police department, the reality is that this will not likely be a quick, nor easy process.

While having 9 out of 12 councilors (1 seat currently vacant) gives the council a "veto-proof" majority over Mayor Jacob Frey, who opposes dismantling the department, ultimately the council needs to change the city charter in order to do so.

And one of the routes for doing that is for the council to push a ballot question through that puts it to residents in a referendum, likely at the next city elections in 2021, when Mayor Jacob Frey will also be up for re-election.

The only way the council can amend the charter without a public vote is by having a full, 13-0 majority, which given three serving councilors haven't come out in support of dismantling MPD, likely won't happen. Amendments passed this way also tend to be used in instances of minor changes to the charter – which disbanding the police is certainly not.

The charter requires the city council to maintain a minimum force based on the city's population, which FOX 9 notes is around 723 officers currently. 

This point was noted by Councilor Cam Gordon, who is in favor of disbanding the police department, in an interview with MPR News. He said that despite this, the council can still take steps in the meantime to make changes to the police contract and budget.

Mayor Frey currently has "complete control" over the police department per the city's charter – something which Gordon tried, and failed, to overturn in 2018-19 with an amendment to the charter, which was delayed by the Charter Commission and thus was too late to submit as a ballot question in the 2018 elections.

Gordon told MPR that with the public's sentiment at the very least in favor of reform of the police, Frey and police leaders could "go along" with changes they make in the interim.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Police department won't 'suddenly disappear'

Ward 4 council member Phillipe Cunningham has also sought to alley concerns that Sunday's announcement will mean immediate changes, but rather it's the beginning of a process whereby the community will be engaged in plans for an alternative form of public safety.

"Folks ask what’s the plan ... there isn’t one yet and there’s a reason for that. The City has to work ALONGSIDE community to build something new." he wrote on Facebook.

"I have heard loud and clear Northsiders don’t want the government working in a bubble and to just tell them what’s going to happen. Further, I just want to reiterate today’s commitment does NOT mean the police department will suddenly disappear tomorrow.

"There will be a thoughtful, intentional, iterative process to transition us into new systems to keep our community safe. YOU must be a part of this process. I commit to you today to work alongside you as we explore these new systems that are rooted in justice and community."

Cunningham also reserved praise for Chief Medaria Arradondo, who has sought to make changes since he became police chief, but has found it difficult due to the power of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, butting heads with its president Bob Kroll.

"I believe in Chief Arradondo and his vision for what is possible for public safety; I don’t, however, believe one man, even someone as amazing as he is, has the power to change a broken system," Cunningham said.

"I look forward to working with him and every single Ward 4 resident to bring the vision of a community that is safe for ALL of us and one in which we can ALL thrive."

Next Up

Gophers basketball, Williams Arena, Gopher fans

U of M to require vaccine or negative test proof for large events

The policy doesn't go into effect until late-January.

Lauri Anne Deatherage

Man indicted for first-degree murder in ex-wife's death

He's accused of killing her days after she remarried.

Jackknifed semi I-94 Sauk Centre Jesse Grabow

Crashes, spinouts piling up as snow blankets southern MN

Snow is expected to continue throughout the day.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 14

More than 11,000 cases for a second day in a row.

Juicy Lucy at Matt's Bar's choice for MN's best sandwich? A famous burger

Is the Juicy Lucy great? Yes. But we can't help but think some sandwiches may have been overlooked.

Boundary Waters BWCAW 1

Boundary Waters permits available next week, but there won't be as many

The number available this year have been cut after increased visitation that's led to congestion and damage to natural resources.

Screen Shot 2022-01-14 at 9.52.35 AM

Four arrested after attempted carjacking at Moorhead gas station

The incident occurred at around 3:40 p.m. at the Travel Mart in Moorhead.

Pexels smartphone use app

App linked to bullying resurfaces in MN, prompting warning from school

The app allows users to anonymously send messages to anyone else with the app.

St. Croix County Sheriff's Office

Hudson woman killed in crash, pickup driver possibly drunk-driving

The crash occurred at around 12:16 a.m. Thursday.

pexels sorry closed sign hand

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2022?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.


Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.55.03 PM

Councilors talk more on desire to dismantle Minneapolis police

Gov. Tim Walz meanwhile acknowledges that there is concern from those in Greater Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Minneapolis votes for police chokehold ban, other immediate changes

The city council is taking swift action following the death of George Floyd.

Defund the police

City council announces plan to disband Minneapolis Police Department

There is a majority that can't be vetoed by the mayor.

Defund the police

Minneapolis plan to dismantle police will not be put to vote this year

A decision was delayed by the Charter Commission, pushing it back beyond the ballot deadline.

Defund the police

Lack of detail hampers Minneapolis City Council's police messaging

The council has lofty goals, but the devil will be in the detail.

Arradondo, Frey

Jacob Frey says police chief should be given chance to fix department

It comes amid moves by the city council for sweeping changes and ultimately the disbanding of the department.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Minneapolis residents will vote on replacing MPD with new public safety department

The Minneapolis City Council approved language for the ballot question Friday.

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 1.19.47 PM

Minneapolis mayor on arrest death video: 'This man should not have died'

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has also spoken out about the man's death.