MINNEAPOLIS (CNN/WCCO) — Minneapolis’ city council is taking the first official step to disband the police department. Members are trying to amend the city charter and create a new public safety system.
The Minneapolis City Charter clearly states there has to be a police department. Five council members who declared their intent to dismantle MPD earlier this month have now written up an ordinance to amend the city charter. In place of ‘a police department,’ they’re proposing “A Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.” The amendment says it will take “A holistic, public-health-oriented approach.” It also provides for a law enforcement division with licensed officers.
“Of course we still have to have emergency response for situations that are difficult to de-escalate, but I think it’s important to keep in perspective that most of what police do is not respond to violent situations,” said City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison.
Ellison says the George Floyd 911 call, for example, didn’t need four armed officers.
But Ellison makes clear that until they know who would respond to that call, the current system will still be around.
“It’s undemocratic for nine people to decide what a new system of public safety is going to look like in a back room,” said Ellison. “I think it’s really going to require the voices of every single resident in our city.”
Some of those people though look at the recent violence in Minneapolis and question the wisdom of removing MPD.
“You need the police because otherwise everything’s just going to turn into mayhem,” said Luis Vasquez, whose friend died in a recent shooting.
“We definitely need the police for a lot of things, not for some,” said Alvin Cogshell, who works in Minneapolis. “We need the police for a lot of things.”
Ultimately it’s the voters who would have to decide to start the conversation about a new public safety system. Through a lengthy legislative process, the council intends to get their charter amendment on the ballot in November.