(The Center Square) – Record violent crime didn’t stop a Minneapolis City Council panel from advancing a plan to give voters the power to replace the city police department.
This year, a new political committee called Yes 4 Minneapolis gathered petition signatures to place a question on the ballot whether to amend the city’s charter.
The proposal asks voters if they want to approve a plan to replace the police department with a new public safety department focused on a “comprehensive public safety approach” that would include police officers "if necessary to fulfill the department’s responsibilities."
The plan would eliminate the charter’s minimum number of police and remove the mayor’s “complete power” over the department.
The plan’s advancement follows a June court order for the 435,000-person town to hire more police since its currently violating its charter by understaffing police after many quit or claimed disability after the death of George Floyd in police custody.
Hennepin County District Judge Jamie Anderson’s writ of mandamus ordered Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey to “immediately take any and all necessary action to ensure that they fund a police force” of at least 730 sworn officers, or more if required by the 2020 Census to be published later this year, by June 30, 2022.
The writ of mandamus follows a year after the Minneapolis city council unanimously passed a resolution intending to disband the police force and create a new public safety model in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody.
Meanwhile, violent crime surged. Carjackings increased 537% year-to-date in November 2020. More than 550 people were wounded by gunfire in 2020, exceeding a 100% increase over 2019, Minnesota Public Radio reported, while people shot more than 24,000 bullets in Minneapolis in 2020.
According to city data, there were 82 homicides in 2020, the third-worst year in city history. The Star Tribune reported 97 homicides were recorded in 1995, the worst year on record when the city was given the nickname “Murderapolis,” followed by 83 homicides in 1996. In 2019, there were 48 homicides.
Six months into 2021, Minneapolis has 42 homicides and 187 shootings, KARE 11 reported.
There was mixed support for the idea.
"I am persuaded that this is not going to get better with another two weeks," Council member Steve Fletcher said. "I'm persuaded that this language is a version of describing the intention of the petitioner and 20,000 people who signed the petition saying they want to create a significant change... and that we should put it on the ballot.”
The policy and government oversight committee approved the amendment by a vote of 11-2. It moves to the full council Friday, where if approved, it would go before voters on the November ballot.