MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is among the many leaders in Minnesota and across the nation who are saying that the push to change policing must continue following the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.
“There are a litany of changes that need to happen right now in our city,” the mayor said on WCCO This Morning. “It’s incumbent on each and every one of us — both at city hall as well as out in our neighborhoods — to recognize that the status quo has not been accepted. This is a shift in how our economy functions, a shift in our police department, a shift in every facet of life. This has got to be day one of that rejuvenation and rebirth.”READ MORE: New Charges Unlikely For Ex-Cops In George Floyd's Death
But what, exactly, might these shifts entail? Since Floyd’s death on May 25 at the intersection of 38th and Chicago, leaders, activists and residents in Minneapolis have discussed — and argued — about how to move forward, particularly in regard to the Minneapolis Police Department.
“I don’t think anybody entirely agrees on the issue, but I think there are several core principles that we can agree on,” Frey said. “First, we need deep structural change in the way our police department operates, we need a full-on culture shift to get the right officers in and the wrong officers out. There are also many calls that don’t require a response from a police officer with a gun and would be better served by a social worker or a mental health responder.”
The mayor did not call for the abolishment of police, as some activists would like, saying rather he believes in a “both-and approach,” wherein the police are a part of the city’s public safety structure but officers are held accountable for their actions.
“I am very appreciative of [police] work, because they are going into situations nobody else wants to,” Frey said.READ MORE: Ex-MPD Officers Accused Of Violating George Floyd's Rights Plead Not Guilty
The Minneapolis City Council is currently working to give voters the chance in November to decide if they want to eliminate the police department as it currently exists and fold it into a new Department of Public Safety, which would be under the control of the city council rather than the mayor.
According to the council members behind the charter amendment, this new department would retain traditional officers but offer more accountability. The charter amendment is currently under review by the city’s Charter Commission.
Last year, the Charter Commission blocked a similar measure on the 2020 ballot, saying it needed more time to consider the proposal. Frey was also critical of last year’s proposal, saying it left too many questions unanswered. The mayor did not address the latest city council proposal in Tuesday’s interview.
When asked about moving forward following Chauvin’s murder conviction, Frey said that Tuesday marks Day One for a new chapter in the city.MORE NEWS: George Floyd Memorial Foundation Has Awarded Over $50,000 In Scholarships
“It’s been a difficult year,” he said. “Our city has experienced a barrage of trauma over these last 11 months, and perhaps more through COVID-19, but that barrage of trauma can lead to us setting an example of inclusivity, opportunity, and hopefully an example for the rest of the country.”