The Potluck

Minneapolis City Council members again propose dismantling police department, creating a new agency

By: - January 14, 2021 3:59 pm

A Minneapolis Police Department squad car. Photo by Tony Webster.

Three Minneapolis City Council members are again working on a proposal to dismantle the current police department and replace it with a new public safety agency.

Under the proposed amendment to the city charter, which is like a constitution, the police department would no longer be a standalone department and would instead be included under the new public safety department, according to the City Council’s Friday agenda.

Council Members Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder will “give notice of intent to introduce” the amendment Friday and present the full text of the proposed change at a Jan. 29 meeting, the council members said in a written statement.

Last year, City Council members proposed a charter amendment that “would provide a more flexible and transparent governance structure, laying the groundwork to successfully bring together law enforcement and other public safety strategies to achieve better outcomes,” they wrote in the statement. That plan was stymied by the Charter Commission, an appointed body that managed to delay the proposed amendment, keeping it off the 2020 ballot. 

The council members said the new proposal incorporates community feedback and will appear on the ballot this year. 

The 2020 proposal came in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and would have removed the police department from the city charter and replaced it with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, which would prioritize a “holistic, public health-oriented approach” to public safety.

The proposal comes amid a rise in violent crime since Floyd’s death and a wave of resignations, retirements and disability claims among police officers. 

If the proposal winds up on the ballot, the November election could be one of the most consequential in recent Minneapolis history; another proposed amendment would limit rent increases. Mayor Jacob Frey faces his first reelection, while voters will also choose City Council candidates in the first municipal elections since Floyd’s death and the unrest that followed.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.