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Poll finds majority of Minneapolis residents favor replacing police department

This is a crucial week for the council's replacement plans.

A poll of registered voters in Minneapolis found the majority support major changes to policing in the city following George Floyd's death, including the potential dismantling of the city's police department.

The poll was commissioned by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The Fairness Project was conducted by Benson Strategy Group, who interviewed by phone and online 668 registered voters in Minneapolis between July 16-23.

The main subject of the poll was the proposal to dismantle Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new " Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, headed up by a director nominated by the mayor and approved by the council.

The results were released in a week that will see the Minneapolis Charter Commission decide whether it will advance the city council's policing proposal as a ballot question to be put to city residents this November.

While notions of "defunding" or "abolishing" police departments have proven to be unpopular in polls since the death of George Floyd, a more extensive description of what Minneapolis City Council is proposing found favor among respondents.

They were asked about the proposed ballot initiative in this way:

"This potential initiative would create a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, that may include police officers as one part of that larger department. To allow these changes to occur, the measure would eliminate a current legal requirement that the city pay for a minimum number of police officers per resident. The potential measure would mandate that the new Department of Community Safety engage regularly with the community and take a holistic approach to public safety rooted in public health. 

Given this, would you vote yes or no on this potential ballot?

In response, 56% said they would be in favor, 30% opposed, and 14% undecided.

The poll of Minneapolis voters has a 3.8 percent margin of error, with 55 percent of those surveyed identifying as Democrats in the predominantly liberal city, with 30 percent considering themselves independent, and 15 percent Republican.

It's a crucial week for the council's plans, with the Charter Commission having already voted last week to keep one amendment to the City Charter off this November's ballot, which would have voters whether they wanted to remove the minimum officer requirement for the city's police force from the Charter.

On Wednesday, it will discuss whether to put forward another ballot question for consideration for voters, which is about the wider replacement of the police department with the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.

The proposal will not be put to city residents if the commission decides to delay a decision, which would mean it misses the cut-off to make it onto the ballot.

The same poll found that 86% of Minneapolis residents surveyed think that, irrespective of the council's plans, that the Minneapolis Police Department needs "real and meaningful changes" after the death of George Floyd.

Some 79% agreed that the police's $193 million budget is too large and approves of some of that money being used to fund social and health services, while 69%

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