MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo spoke out publicly Wednesday against ballot question 2, as Minneapolis voters consider whether to replace the MPD with a new Department of Public Safety.
"As your chief of police, I would not be in favor of this ballot amendment," Arradondo said.
"We are down a third of our sworn officers," Arradondo said. "To vote on a measure of reimagining of public safety without a solid plan and an implementation or direction of work, this is too critical of a time to wish and hope for that help that we need so desperately right now."
While the public safety proposal does include officers, Arradondo said he has never been shown a plan moving forward.
"I was not expecting some sort of robust, detailed, word-for-word plan, but at this point quite frankly, I would take a drawing on a napkin. And I have not seen either," Arradondo said candidly.
The chief expressed specific concern about the ballot question's language that states a new public safety department "could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary," specifically the words "if necessary."
Arradondo stated his belief that the ballot measure will not end "tragic incidents between police and community from ever occurring," will not change police culture, increase trust, or reduce violent crime disparities.
"I urge you to ask yourself, what is truly the goal of this ballot question," the chief said. "Having a holistic change to public safety does not require a drastic change to our city charter. The future of public safety for our city requires this: it requires all of us to see each other as necessary."
Yes 4 Minneapolis released a statement in response to Chief Arradondo's press conference, criticizing him for "campaigning in uniform."
Read the full statement from Yes 4 Minneapolis below:
"Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo campaigning in uniform today—in explicit contradiction of the policy he himself wrote last year—is one of many examples revealed in his press conference today why structural change is imperative to keep the people of Minneapolis safe and to implement an accountable and transparent relationship with those who are called to protect and serve.
Chief Arradondo denies there is a work slowdown that Reuters has confirmed, has failed to discipline a single officer since the murder of George Floyd, including the officers in the horrific Stallings video - who he praised and who are now retired and living on the city’s fully funded police department.
“Chief Arradondo is right––our city is flat-lining and we ask too much of our police officers––all because our current approach to public safety is not working. Not for police officers and not for Minneapolis residents. The city has put hundreds of millions of dollars into our armed police only model - more than what we’ve ever spent, yet the outcomes don’t match.
Chief Arradondo said it’s ‘wholly unbearable’ to have an accountable and transparent relationship with the rest of the city. We imagine that it would be wholly unbearable to be stuck governing a department with the lack of public trust and heinous abuses of power that we’ve seen from the MPD including murdered people on camera and 'hunting people' like a sport, with little fear of accountability.
Voting yes on Question 2 is common sense and a concrete plan to get police officers the support that they need, to sustain and expand on the strategies we know work for intervention and prevention, and finally have a coordinated and well integrated Department of Public Safety with the staff, budget, resources to keep every community safe.”
WHAT IF QUESTION 2 PASSES?
As KARE 11 previously reported, a few things could happen immediately if the measure passes and a few others would be up to the city council to decide after November.
The Minneapolis Police Department would be crossed out in the city charter and replaced with a "Department of Public Safety."
That department would be led by a commissioner, nominated by the mayor and appointed by the city council.
The city council would have much more control over the department than it currently does over MPD, such as being able to change police policies. Right now that can only be done by the mayor and police chief.
The ballot question specifies that the Department of Public Safety "could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary." State law still would require "police" to respond to certain calls.
The city council would also have control over how many officers to staff, because the current minimum officer requirement in the charter would be eliminated.
Here is a look at the full text of the ballot question:
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could 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?
This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.