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The future of public safety in Minneapolis will continue to lie with the established police department.

The city's voters soundly defeated a ballot question during Tuesday's elections, which if approved would have struck the Minneapolis Police Department from the city's charter and replaced it with a new Department of Public Safety.

As of 9:05 p.m., the Secretary of State's website showed 56.58% of marked ballots voting "No" on Ballot Question 2, with 128 of 136 precincts reporting.

For proponents of the change, the defeat is an abrupt end on their preferred path to a reformed, more accountable police department. The question only made it on to the ballot through the work of Yes 4 Minneapolis, which collected 22,000 signatures in support of the measure following the murder of George Floyd by MPD officer Derek Chauvin, with Floyd's death sparking civil unrest and invigorated calls for change. 

Opponents of the ballot question, meanwhile, staved off the relentless grassroots push to reframe the city's approach to public safety, a discussion further complicated by the rise in crime seen over the past 18 months, both in Minneapolis and throughout the country.

Two of incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey's main challenger, Kate Knuth and Sheila Nezhad, came out in support of the change to the city's charter. Community groups concerned about high-profile police killings, officers' treatment of citizens during 2020's civil unrest and a lenient, union-backed disciplinary system had lobbied residents to support theechange. Police officers, these groups insisted, will still be a part of Minneapolis — but city leaders seeking accountability would no longer have their hands tied.

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Frey has consistently preached police reform measures over a wholesale replacement stemming from this ballot question, a position that has earned him endorsements from some of the state's top elected officials. Current Police Chief Medaria Arradondo spoke publicly last week about his opposition to Ballot Question 2, in a news conference that later prompted the outgoing council president to file an ethics complaint.

Even with voters rejecting the ballot question, public safety will continue to be a topic of discussion. Frey and the top mayoral candidates have promised to push further reform measures in the years ahead. The current mayor has also repeatedly stated his support for some of the proposals contained in Ballot Question 2 (such as the removal of police officer staffing minimums) despite being against the charter changes as a whole.

But the Minneapolis Police Department will continue to be central to whatever changes are made, remaining firmly entrenched as the city's lead public safety agency.

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