Minneapolis to vote on replacing police department with ‘public safety’ agency

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Minneapolis to vote on replacing police department with ‘public safety’ agency

Minneapolis residents are just one week out from voting on a controversial proposal that could see the city’s police department replaced with a “Department of Public Safety.”

Voters will weigh a ballot measure known as City Question 2 during Minneapolis municipal race on Nov. 2 amid calls from activists and left-leaning politicians to “defund the police” in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the city last year.

The measure, which has already divided residents, would get rid of the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with an agency that uses a “comprehensive public health approach” to safety, according to the ballot question.  

Opponents argue the measure will defund the department and fail to address rising crime across the city.

Those who support it, however, claim it will allow mental health or substance abuse experts to respond to some emergency calls.

If the measure is passed, the city council and newly elected mayor will have the legal power to structure the new department.

“I’m on both sides,” resident Candis McKelvy, who attended a recent debate about the measure, told NBC News.

Minister JaNaé Bates of Yes 4 Minneapolis lobbied to get City Question 2 on the ballot this election day.
Minister JaNaé Bates of Yes 4 Minneapolis lobbied to get City Question 2 on the ballot this election day.
Photo by Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The 60-year-old said she believed the police department needed overhauling, but admitted she was concerned about revamping it entirely.

“I need one more piece of information. If I vote no, then do things just stay the same?” she said.

Yes 4 Minneapolis, which is made up of businesses and organizations from across the city, lobbied to get the measure on the ballot.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last month the measure could remain on the ballot after a district judge tried to block it.

It comes as Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is among the high profile figures in favor of replacing the department, blamed cops for the city’s increased crime – saying officers weren’t fulfilling their oath of office.

‘What we must also recognize is that the reduction in policing currently in our city and the lawlessness that is happening is due to two things,’ Omar said during a town hall meeting on Saturday.

Rep. Ilhan Omar referred to the Minneapolis Police Department at the "most dysfunctional" in the state and even the country.
Rep. Ilhan Omar referred to the Minneapolis Police Department at the “most dysfunctional” in the state and even the country.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

‘One, the police have chosen to not fulfill their oath of office and to provide the public safety they are owed to the citizens they serve. 

‘The Minneapolis police department is the most dysfunctional police department in our state and probably in the country.’

Violent crime surged nearly 17 percent in Minneapolis last year, according to data from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz and current Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who is running for a second term, are among those who have opposed the ballot measure.

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