One of the biggest issues on the ballot in Minnesota this election is a question about public safety in Minneapolis.
A "yes" vote on Question 2 would change the city's charter to create a Department of Public Safety responsible for public safety in Minneapolis, while removing the requirement for a chief of police, police department and police officer staffing minimum (though not excluding the existence of any of those things).
While only those who live in Minneapolis can vote on the ballot question, the future of policing in Minneapolis has attracted attention from politicians across the country.
Although Republicans are typically opposed to efforts to replace MPD with a new Department of Public Safety in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the issue has split Democrats in the Twin Cities and Minnesota.
Here's a look at where DFLers stand on Question 2:
Minneapolis mayoral candidates
Jacob Frey: No
According to MPR News, he said:
“I think we all need to be specific and honest here. Let's look at what this ballot question does do and what it doesn't do. I think every single candidate — every mayoral candidate, council candidates — running for office right now believes in safety beyond policing. We all believe that not every 911 call requires a response from an officer with a gun. Whether that's a mental health responder or a social worker, we can pair a unique skill set with the unique experiences that are happening on the ground. And we have invested record amounts of money, almost every single budget in that exact work. We're already doing it now. Do you need a charter amendment to do that work? No, you do not.”
Shelia Nezhad: Yes
According to MPR News, she said:
“I'm not only a strong supporter of that charter amendment; I actually helped write it, so I have been thinking deeply about it since its inception. And it's a first step, right. So just like our rent control charter amendment that will be on the ballot this year. It's a first step. We have to create a container for the change to happen within, and that's what this new Department of Public Safety is. It’s a container for us to fund more violence prevention strategies, more alternatives like mobile mental health responders that I have fought for funding at the city, more domestic and sexual violence advocates and services, more of these wraparound approaches to solving violence.”
Kate Knuth: Yes
According to MPR News, she said:
“I support charter amendment no. 2 to create a new Department of Public Safety because I think, and I think Minneapolis residents believe, the status quo on public safety and policing is not acceptable. And it's not acceptable for kids to get shot in our community. And it is not acceptable for police to kill people in our community. And I think charter amendment no. 2 gives us the best framework to make the most effective safety system in the city.”
Minneapolis City Council
Kevin Reich: No
According to the Star Tribune, Reich said:
“I do not support the current public safety charter amendment because it was hastily created without being forged in the usual process of thorough planning, feedback, and iteration that major public policies require for sound implementation and actual efficacy to achieve the goals stated.”
Cam Gordon: Yes
According to the Star Tribune, Gordon said:
“Passage of Question 2 will allow us to take steps together to transform public safety. The new Department of Public Safety should include the behavioral health crisis teams, a new approach to traffic safety focused on driver behaviors that put people at risk rather than on using traffic stops as a pretext for racially discriminatory stops, a safety ambassador program modeled after the great work that union security guards have started downtown, and potentially our Office of Violence Prevention, which invests in proven public health interventions to prevent and disrupt cycles of violence. It could also include 911 and 311.”
Steve Fletcher: Yes
According to Fletcher's campaign website:
“I support the Yes 4 Minneapolis charter amendment, which would replace our current charter requirement for a Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety, responsible for a broader public safety mission. This important structural change will allow us to send the right response to each call for service, remove a provision won by the Police Federation in 1961 that currently locks us into our police-only approach, and put police under the same oversight and accountability as every other city department.”
Phillipe Cunningham: Yes
According to Cunningham's website:
“Regardless of the outcome of this ballot question, the focus of all public safety efforts MUST be answering the question, "What will actually keep people safe?" followed by "Are we investing the right amount of money into what works so we are achieving population-level outcomes?
"These questions have to be answered through analysis of research, working with national experts and our frontline employees, and most importantly, centering the unique needs of our diverse communities.”
Jeremiah Ellison: Yes
According to the Star Tribune:
“Law enforcement will not be 'replaced,' rather folded into a larger department of public safety—allowing us to de-center a police-only model and expand a public health approach to safety. This will allow for the city to have more oversight over the police and more latitude in how we provide a holistic public safety approach to ensure all of us can get home safe at the end of the night."
Lisa Goodman: No
According to the Star Tribune:
“Systemic change is required in how Minneapolis handles law enforcement. The proposed public safety Charter amendment does not provide that systemic change. Calling our law enforcement function the Department of Public Safety instead of the Minneapolis Police Department isn't transformational. Removing the Police Chief position from the Charter doesn't create change, it moves accountability further from elected leadership by making the Chief accountable to another department head.”
From Schroeder's website:
“I’m proud to have led throughout my first City Council term to lay the groundwork for a broader, more dynamic public safety system.
"It is time to move beyond our one-size-fits-all status quo. We can and must do better. We have been shown time and time again that we are past the point of being able to reform the MPD. What we want is a true transformation of public safety. This means moving towards a new and improved version of public safety that is built to help everyone.”
Andrew Johnson: Yes
From Johnson's website:
“… It is clear to me that the status quo configuration is not working well enough, despite record investments and many reform efforts. I do not fault the long line of mayors and chiefs who have been unable to resolve longstanding issues; instead, I have come to the conclusion that structural barriers have held back progress.”
Linea Palmisano: No
According to the Star Tribune:
"While I don't support the Yes4Minneapolis amendment, if it passes, I'm committed to building a robust department of public safety. And, since we don't need a charter amendment to create a new department or new programs that serve public safety functions, my public safety vision for Minneapolis remains the same regardless of the election."
"This year the residents of Mpls have asked for and can take that first step of action on the ballot. As a resident of Mpls where George Floyd’s murder sparked a national call for real reform, I will vote Yes for greater public safety & more human rights for all. #Yes4Minneapolis"
Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley: Yes
“I was one of the 22,000 residents of Minneapolis who added their name to the Yes 4 Minneapolis petition when they came to my front door last year…”
State Rep. Jim Davnie: Yes
"No one is going to do the important work of public safety reform for us. There's a broad consensus in the city that what we're doing now doesn't work. Only #YesOn2 gets us to a better system."
State Sen. Omar Fateh: Yes
State Rep. Fue Lee: Yes
"As a Northsider, I know that in Minneapolis, we care for each other. We're united for a better… future. The status quo has failed to prevent both police violence and community violence..."
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar: Yes
"I have long said we need a public safety system that is actually rooted in people's basic human needs. That means having qualified experts, such as mental health workers and social workers, work alongside officers to give people the help they need and make our communities safer. That means providing the services and responding to the types of crises that the MPD is not designed, equipped nor trained to handle. That is what the Minneapolis charter amendment on the ballot in November gives us the opportunity to do."
“After many conversations, I have concluded that Amendment No. 2 does not address the core public safety challenges we face, and may well move us in the wrong direction.
"While there is much I agree with in the Amendment, one component poses an insurmountable problem - the requirement that the new Department of Public Safety report to both the Mayor and the City Council. My own experience working in City Hall tells me that this change will exacerbate what is a deeply flawed city governance structure, where accountability, authority and lines of responsibility between the Mayor and City Council are diffused and dysfunctional.”
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: No
According to KARE 11, a spokesperson said:
"She has also repeatedly stated her opposition to defunding the police. She does not support this ballot measure."
“There is much shared consensus around many police reforms across our communities and much work to do before all of our communities feel safe for everyone. However, I am strongly opposed to the Minneapolis Ballot Initiative, which I believe would jeopardize public safety and diminish accountability.”
"It's been distilled down to this: defund police or fund police? I know it’s more complex than that, but I think that poses problems. So I don’t think I would have this ballot question on there. I think there’s other ways to do it."