MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three Minneapolis City Council members plan to introduce Friday language for a city charter amendment that would give voters the chance to decide in November if they want to establish a new Department of Public Safety, which would retain traditional police officers but offer more accountability and an expanded approach to safety in the city.
In a statement, councilmembers Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder said they will introduce the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment at Friday’s meeting, a procedural step in the process of getting the amendment on the 2021 ballot. Next, following a public hearing, the proposal might then be forwarded to the Minneapolis Charter Commission for review.READ MORE: Petition To Rename Section Of Highway In Chanhassen After Prince Gets 1,300+ Signatures
The councilmembers say that the amendment, if passed, would establish in the city charter a Department of Public Safety modeled on the structure of the Minnesota Department of Safety. This new department would lead various public safety efforts in preventing, stopping and reducing crime in the city.
The amendment would remove the Minneapolis Police Department as a charter department, establishing in its place a law enforcement division made up of sworn officers that’ll be responsible for the core functions of law enforcement. Additionally, the new department will integrate various other public safety functions under its authority, increasing flexibility and coordination.
“Minneapolis residents have a unified vision for a broader public safety system that keeps everyone in our communities safe and treats us all with dignity,” said Schroeder, in a statement. “This change would not only expand our public safety toolbox, but would also improve oversight and accountability — both of which are critical building blocks of a Minneapolis that is safe and equitable for all.”READ MORE: Protest Groups Plan To Demonstrate During Derek Chauvin Trial, Despite Barriers
The councilmembers say that this amendment proposal reflects what they’ve heard from residents over the last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and the surge in crime seen in the city over the last several months.
Last year, in a similar move, the city council voted for a charter amendment to get rid of the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety and Violence Prevention. The proposal was rejected by the city’s charter commission, which said the proposal lacked detail and a clear picture of what the new department would be.
The push to change policing in Minneapolis was spurred by the May 25 death of Floyd. Bystander video recorded former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and is set to stand trial in March.MORE NEWS: Man Fatally Stabbed In Apparent Domestic Incident In South Minneapolis
Floyd’s death sparked a protest movement that forced the nation to reckon with its history of racism and police violence. With it came calls for the Minneapolis Police Department to be abolished. A majority of city councilmembers pledged to dismantle the department.
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