Minneapolis voters could be asked as soon as November to remove police department from City Charter

Nine of 12 city councilors recently revealed plans to disband the city police department.
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Minneapolis voters could be asked to cast a ballot on the future role of Minneapolis Police Department as soon as this November, under plans revealed on Friday.

Five city council members – president Lisa Bender, Alondra Cano, Jeremiah Ellison, Steve Fletcher, and Cam Gordon – signaled their intentions to propose an ordinance that would change the City's Charter by removing MPD as a "Charter Department."  

The Charter currently stipulates that the council must provide a police force of 0.0017 officers per resident of the city. 

It would be replaced on the Charter with the creation of a "new Charter Department to provide for community safety and violence prevention."

By removing the MPD requirements from the City's Charter, it seems to be laying the groundwork for the councilors' eventual plans to disband the department in the wake of George Floyd's killing, and replace it with an as-yet alternative public safety strategy.

The proposal didn't merit much discussion on Friday, with the councilors expected to provide more detailed plans when they introduce it as an ordinance at its next meeting on June 26.

As the Star Tribune notes, it faces a tall task to get it approved in time for the Nov. 3 elections, as the current deadline for adding items to the November ballot via the Minneapolis Charter Commission is July 7, and would require the Commission to hold a special meeting as they're not due to convene again until July 8.

If the Charter Commission does convene earlier and approves the proposal, it could be put to voters during the 2020 elections.

Councilors have been talking since the death of Floyd about dismantling MPD, which it believes is beyond reform despite subsequent efforts to implement change led by Chief Medaria Arradondo, Mayor Jacob Frey, and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Department.

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Separate from the Charter change proposal, the council unanimously passed a resolution to commence a year-long process "of community engagement, research, and structural change to create a transformative model for cultivating safety in our city."

This refers to the 12-month engagement process 9 out of 12 councilors previously announced for the disbanding of MPD.

The resolution says that reforms to MPD "have not created equitable public safety in our community."

As a result of the resolution passing, a Working Group has been created within the council that will come forward with policy change proposals, as well as put together a plan to engage with the community, which it will present at a July 24 meeting.

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