The Potluck

Minneapolis’ human resources office tells police they won’t be fired if Question 2 passes

By: - October 26, 2021 1:26 pm

A Minneapolis police squad car in front of the burned out Third Precinct police station blocks off Minneahaha Avenue for a street festival in October 2021. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

The city of Minneapolis sent an email to police staff on Monday assuring them they will not be fired upon passage of Question 2, which is the ballot initiative that would replace the police department with a new department of public safety.

Minneapolis residents — with the entire country looking on in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd — have been debating the future of the police department for 17 months, and Election Day is likely to be a key step in determining that future.

“We recognize this is a stressful time for all of you and has been for quite some time,” wrote Interim City Coordinator Heather Johnston and Chief Human Resources Officer Patience Ferguson in an email obtained by the Reformer.

“You all have dealt with so much and through it all continued to show up to serve and protect our community. As your City colleagues, we want you to know that we value your contributions and commitment and are here to support you. We hope that this information will ease some of your concerns,” the email reads.

The email also tells police staff there will be police in the new department; they won’t have to reapply for their jobs; and the chain of command will remain in place until the City Council creates a new public safety department.

The city of Minneapolis sent the following FAQ to police staff:

  1. Will all of the police department employees be out of a job on November 3 if the amendment passes?  No. Current labor agreements will continue to be in place.
  2. Will we have to reapply for our jobs if a new department is created?  No. Current labor agreements and City benefits will continue to be in place.
  3. Will there be police officers in the new department? Yes. State law requires that certain duties be performed only by licensed peace officers.
  4. What happens to the chain of command? Who is in charge? Immediately following the election, the current chain of command will remain in place. If passed, the new Charter language would become effective 30 days following the election, or on December 3, 2021.
  5. When will the City Council decide what the new department will look like? Creation of a new department will take time. The primary action that must be accomplished by the effective date is the appointment of an interim commissioner to lead the new Department of Public Safety; the commissioner is correspondingly vested with the performance of all law enforcement services currently provided through MPD. This step ensures command and continuity of service. The new Council and Mayor would then be responsible for finalizing the ultimate form and functions of the new department through several policy decisions in 2022 and beyond.
  6. Will we still be working under the terms set out in the contract if the amendment passes?  Approval of Question 2 does not alter the terms in the labor contracts.
  7. What happens after 30 days? If Question 2 is passed, the City will continue to have licensed peace officers providing law enforcement services. There will be a longer term process led by the City Council that will result in ordinance changes and that process will ultimately create a new structure for a public safety department.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.