A trio of Minneapolis City Council members introduced a proposal that would abolish the Minneapolis Police Department.
The plan would create a “Department of Public Safety” that would include former police officers from the Minneapolis Police Department as well as “additional divisions … to provide for a comprehensive approach to public safety beyond law enforcement.”
The proposal would also eliminate a requirement that mandates a minimum number of officers based on the population of the city. The size of the force would be at the complete discretion of the mayor and city council.
“Minneapolis residents are imagining a comprehensive public safety approach that is more effective and more reflective of our values, and they are calling on the city to act,” Steve Fletcher, one of the three co-sponsors, said. “This charter amendment creates a structure that supports that vision and allows our city to innovate.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey backed the idea behind the proposal, but is worried this plan would result in less accountability for the department.
“I believe in a comprehensive approach,” Frey said. “That’s what we’re hearing from people. We are not hearing people want to dilute accountability by having the head of public safety report to 14 people.”
The city council has recently defunded $8 million from the police department for the 2021 fiscal year. The department will see a $22 million cut from its $193 million budget, according to The Western Journal. This money will be shifted to mental health crisis teams and trained dispatchers to assess mental health calls. Meanwhile, other city workers will handle theft and property damage reports.
Crime has skyrocketed in the city since the George Floyd killing. There has been a 250% increase in gunshot victims to start the year compared to last year, rape cases are up 22%, and robbery is up 59%, according to WCCO-TV.
The city’s police chief, Medaria Arradondo, said that his force is experiencing a lack of officers due to resignations and officers on medical leave. The numbers are so low that the city has had to ask neighboring cities for help.
Former city council member Don Samuels spoke out against the proposal of abolishing the police.
“We have to have a wholesome community. We need multi-strategy and not a singular approach like the current council is doing, where it’s all about police. Police have to change but we need them desperately,” said Samuels.
This proposal would be the second time that council members have proposed abolishing the police. A similar proposal was blocked last year. If the proposal were to be passed, it would appear on a ballot during elections in the fall.