Minneapolis residents will vote on a charter amendment this November that would replace the city’s police department with a new department of public safety.
The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to approve the language for the ballot initiative, which was first discussed by activists and officials in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd last summer.
Voters will be asked if they approve of a change to the city’s charter that would “strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach…”
The full ballot question reads:
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach, and which would include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?
The change to the charter would mean that the city council would no longer be required to fund a police force at a level of 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents.
But the council also approved an “explanatory note” that will be included with the ballot question. It explains that the new department could include “licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary," and also states that the new public safety department would be led by a public safety commissioner, who would be appointed by the mayor and nominated by the city council. But the mayor would not have “complete power” over the department or its operations.
Political group Yes 4 Minneapolis, who spearheaded the petition to put the initiative in front of the council, criticized the inclusion of the explanatory note.
“The unnecessary addition of an explanatory note to the ballot question represents an underhanded attempt to override the will of the people,” the group wrote on Facebook.