Minneapolis votes down measure replacing police department
Minneapolis on Tuesday voted down Question 2, a ballot measure that would have overhauled the city’s police department.
The ballot question failed, with 57 percent of Minneapolis voters voting against it, according to The Associated Press.
Question 2 would have dissolved Minneapolis’s current police department by revising the city’s charter to establish a new Department of Public Safety.
The new entity would have employed a “comprehensive public health approach to safety,” replacing the city police chief with a commissioner nominated by the mayor and appointed by the Minneapolis City Council.
Police officers themselves would not be completely done away with, but nonpolice first responders — social workers, therapists and other trained professionals — would be introduced to deal with substance abuse emergencies, mental health crises and other nonviolent situations.
“Public safety is not just policing,” JaNaé Bates, a local minister and communications director for Yes 4 Minneapolis, told The Hill on Tuesday.
“Policing is a part of that infrastructure, but we have asked them to fill so many gaps that they just aren’t. … They’re not the trained, qualified group of people that should be doing those things.”
Studies have shown that the vast majority of calls that police officers in the U.S. respond to are nonviolent in nature.
Minneapolis has been at the center of the police reform conversation since May 2020, when George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Despite nationwide Black Lives Matter protests following Floyd’s killing, substantive changes to national police policy have been hard to come by, as the reform bill named after Floyd has so far failed to clear the Senate.
At the end of 2020, the Minneapolis City Council voted to reappropriate $8 million from the police department’s budget, repurposing the funds for violence prevention and other social services instead.
Minneapolis wasn’t the only city to do this, though such moves have often been criticized as “defunding the police.”
Bates described opposition to Question 2 as a “powerful and well funded disinformation campaign.”
All of Mpls, a community coalition against Question 2, labels the proposition a “dangerous experiment” on its website.
The idea of removing police officers from nonviolent situations and investing more in violence prevention services is neither novel nor partisan in nature, but Question 2 was fiercely opposed by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis as well as Medaria Arradondo, the city’s police chief.
Arradondo, who bucked the longstanding culture of police officers not testifying against one another to condemn Chauvin during his trial this spring, spoke out against the proposal on Wednesday, telling reporters at a press conference he didn’t think the restructuring would make Minneapolis safer.
He had previously said any law enforcement leader would find the new structure proposed by Question 2 to be “wholly unbearable.”
Leading Minnesota Democrats also opposed the ballot measure, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith as well as Gov. Tim Walz.
State Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), both progressives, voiced their support of the initiative.
The editorial board of the Star Tribune, the city’s leading paper, also went against Question 2.