MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis City Council members will take the first step Friday in the effort to disband the police department.

Five council members who declared their intent to “end” the Minneapolis Police Department earlier this month have authored an ordinance to amend the city charter. They include Jeremiah Ellison, Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher and Council President Lisa Bender.

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The charter states there has to be a police department. The proposed amendment replaces that with “a department of community safety and violence prevention” that will take “a holistic, public-health-oriented approach.” It also provides for a law enforcement division with licensed officers.

“Of course we still have to have emergency response for those situations that are difficult to de-escalate, but I think that it’s important for us to keep in perspective that most of what police do is not respond to violent situations,” Ellison said.

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He says the George Floyd 911 call, for example, didn’t need four armed officers. But Ellison makes clear that until they know who would respond to calls like that, the current policing system will still be around.

“It’s undemocratic for nine people to go and decide what a new system of public safety is going to look like in a back room,” Ellison said. “I think it’s really going to require the voices of every single resident in our city.”

Some people who live and work in Uptown — where 11 people were injured in a shooting last weekend — look at the recent violence in Minneapolis and question the wisdom of removing MPD. Uptown resident Luis Vasquez lost a friend to gun violence earlier this month.

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“You need the police because otherwise everything’s just … going to turn into mayhem,” Vasquez said.

He also believes there needs to be changes to the police, including a residency requirement for officers to live in the city.

Ultimately, it’s the voters who would have to decide to start the conversation about a new public safety system without MPD.

Through a lengthy legislative process, the council intends to get their charter amendment on the ballot in November. Click here to read the full text of the amendment.

David Schuman

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