Minneapolis Council members draft charter amendment to replace existing police department

By: - June 23, 2020 5:05 pm

Minneapolis Police guard the third precinct on May 27, before it was taken over by rioters. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Five Minneapolis City Council members have written an amendment to the city charter that would remove the police department and replace it with a new city agency responsible for public safety, according to a draft of the amendment obtained by the Reformer.

The proposed charter amendment, which could go before Minneapolis voters as soon as 2020, comes in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and a subsequent wave of unrest and protests.

Council Members Jeremiah Ellison, Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher and Lisa Bender’s names are on the charter amendment, which would create a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The new agency would prioritize a “holistic, public health-oriented approach” to public safety, according to the amendment language.

Under the amendment, the mayor would nominate and council would approve a director of the department, who would have “non-law enforcement experience in community safety services” including public health and restorative justice.

The council would be able to maintain a division of protective law enforcement services — comprising peace officers — who would be supervised by the newly established department. The director of the department would also appoint a director of this division, who would be confirmed by the council and mayor.

Earlier this month, nine members of the City Council announced plans to defund the Minneapolis Police Department, unleashing a torrent of debate about what that means, and how it could happen. Mayor Jacob Frey was booed away by protesters when he refused to commit to defunding the police department.

There are four ways to amend the charter, but the only option that appears feasible is for the council to pass an ordinance seeking to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

MPD Charter Amendment_DRAFT

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.