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Public can now weigh in on city council plan to replace the Minneapolis Police Department

After some city council members announced that they would "disband" the Minneapolis Police Department, they've taken the first official steps to replace it.
Credit: KARE
Minneapolis badge icon on squad car

MINNEAPOLIS — The public comment period is now open for the Minneapolis City Council's proposed charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department.

The amendment establishes a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, and removes the references to "police department" in the city charter.

The charter amendment is on a path that would eventually bring it to a public vote on the November ballot. Members of the public can submit their comments online now.

The city council voted unanimously on Friday to advance the proposal as a ballot measure.

The council says the new public safety department would focus on a "holistic, public-health oriented approach," although it would still allow for a "law enforcement services" division that would include licensed peace officers.

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"I am absolutely supportive of our residents having the opportunity to weigh in on this significant change to our charter," council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said on Friday. “We can change the name of the public safety, we can change the makeup, but until we address racism nothing is going to change.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded to the council vote on Friday, saying that he believes the city needs a “complete transformation” in its police system, but that the city council plan is leaving him with more questions than answers. He said it's not clear if the police department would be "abolished" or just changed, said the person in charge would have to report to too many people, and questioned whether Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo would still be in charge.

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Some Twin Cities activists have also criticized the plan, including Lisa Clemons of A Mother's Love.

“We need good police on the streets, just like we want good people,” Clemons said. “And that’s something some people don’t seem to want to say.”

The law enforcement services division would include peace officers, but the city council has not said how many. That's "by design," Ward 3 councilman Steve Fletcher said. "I believe it will mean fewer police officers, but literally we have committed to a community engagement process to figure out what this is going to look like."

On July 1 at 4 p.m., the Minneapolis Charter Commission will hold a special meeting to review the proposed amendment and discuss next steps. The Charter Commission has 60 days to complete that review and submit its recommendation to the city council.

The deadline for submitting a measure to add to the Nov. 3 general election ballot is Friday, Aug. 21. If the measure makes it to the ballot, and voters approve it, it would become effective May 1, 2021.

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