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Minneapolis City Council unanimously votes to disband police department

A plan for more community-based policing is underway.

STAR TRIBUNE FILE/LEILA NAVIDI

It’s been over a month since the police killing of George Floyd and as promised, the Minneapolis City Council has officially taken steps to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, Star Tribune reports.

In a unanimous vote of 12-0 on Friday (June 26), the city council advanced a proposal to change the city charter to replace the police department with a new “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.” Defined details on the newly established agency will be worked out by a policy committee, first. Next, the city’s Charter Commission is set to conduct a formal review of the proposal, which will then be assessed by citizens and city officials.

The draft amendment, which is available on the city’s website, is a guide, “...pertaining to the creation of a new Charter Department to provide for community safety and violence prevention, and the removal of the Police Department as a Charter Department.” The charter amendment was penned by Council President Lisa Bender, who originally announced plans to disband the MPD, as well as council members Jeremiah Ellison, Cam Gordon, Alondra Cano and Steve Fletcher.

Council members are hoping for a community-based police organization with different kinds of non-armed responders for domestic or mental health calls.

According to the draft, the new agency’s leader would have to be someone with “non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.”

“We have committed to a community engagement process which is only just beginning,” council member Fletcher said. “This vote, if it’s on the ballot in November, as I hope it is, gives the voters a chance to check-in in the middle of that engagement process to tell us we are on the right track. I believe that’s the right thing for us to do, put it to the voters of Minneapolis to make this change.”

As soon as July 8, residents will be able to give their thoughts during a public virtual session. August 21 is the deadline for ballot items to be submitted.

At this time, it’s unclear how many of the currently employed officers will remain if the proposal does pass. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey noted that he’s concerned by the draft amendment and has made it clear that he is against disbanding the police.

“This amendment to our city charter does not provide clarity,” Frey said. “There are more questions I have regarding this amendment than answers.”

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