MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sen. Tina Smith says that in November, she plans to vote against the question on the Minneapolis ballot that would remove from the city’s charter the requirement for a city police department.
At the same time, she says that when it comes to policing in the city, “the status quo is unacceptable.”READ MORE: New Poll Shows Minneapolis Residents Support Charter Amendment Replacing Police
Smith said she has wrestled with how to vote on the ballot question, weighing the path toward transformative change in public safety as well as the “long and painful history of racism, redlining, lack of investment, jobs and opportunity.”
Smith said that she has concluded that one part of the question poses what she calls an “insurmountable problem,” and that’s the requirement that a new Department of Public Safety would report to both the city’s mayor as well as the Minneapolis City Council.
“My own experience working in City Hall tells me that this change will exacerbate what is a deeply flawed city governance structure, where accountability, authority and lines of responsibility between the Mayor and City Council are diffused and dysfunctional. I believe imposing this dysfunctional structure for public safety would likely have a negative effect on public safety and the operations of the police department,” Smith said. “After many conversations, I have concluded that Amendment #2 does not address the core public safety challenges we face, and may well move us in the wrong direction.”
Smith added that following the murder of George Floyd, the city’s residents are tasked with making up their own minds about the best way forward to transform policing.
A recent poll finds residents are in favor of the controversial charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, with 49% of those polled support the amendment, 41% against it and 10% undecided.
As a city that has become synonymous with police abuse wrestles with police reform, the effort is sharply dividing Democrats along ideological lines. The state’s best known progressives — U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Attorney General Keith Ellison — support the plan, which would replace the police department with a new Department of Public Safety. Other top Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Walz, have said they oppose it.MORE NEWS: Early Voting Begins: Minneapolis Residents Will Vote On Controversial PD Ballot Question