Minneapolis City Council members to seek ‘removal of police’ as standalone department

The notice states that the council members’ objective is to change the charter’s current mandate — which requires funds for the MPD as a sole entity — to fund more general “public safety services.”

Left: Phillipe Cunningham. Middle: Steve Fletcher. Right: Jeremy Schroeder. All from minneapolismn.gov.

A group of Minneapolis City Council members plan to introduce a proposal that would erase the Minneapolis Police Department as its own separate department.

Currently, the city charter mandates funding of 0.0017 police officers per resident, which amounts to around 730 MPD officers. However, the current police force does not satisfy the staffing requirement, due to over 100 officers leaving the MPD in 2020, which is more than double the typical average.

Since George Floyd’s death last May, the City Council has been on a mission to “reimagine” the MPD through budget cuts and modifications to the city charter.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council spoke at an event calling for the defunding of the MPD last summer. (Black Visions MN/Twitter)

In June, the City Council drafted an amendment to the charter that would have removed the funding requirements. The council intended for this amendment to appear on the ballot in November, but it was voted down by the City Charter Commission, which wanted additional time to review the proposal.

The home of the chairman of the Charter Commission was vandalized by anti-police trespassers after he voted to stall the council’s proposed amendment.

The chairman of the Minneapolis Charter Commission had his home vandalized and egged in August by anti-police perpetrators.

That amendment changed the wording of the charter from requiring funding for a “police department” to a “department of community safety and violence prevention.”

A new notice was given by City Council Members Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher, and Jeremy Schroeder at a Jan. 15 meeting. They intend to formally introduce the ordinance at the next regular City Council meeting, which will take place on Jan. 29.

The notice states that the council members’ objective is to change the charter’s current mandate — which requires funds for the MPD as a sole entity — to fund more general “public safety services.”

The amendments will be to Article VII of the Minneapolis City Charter, “pertaining to the creation of a new Charter Department to provide public safety services, including law enforcement, and the removal of the Police Department as a standalone Charter Department.”

The notice also states that the amendments to the charter will be “submitted to the voters at the November 2, 2021 municipal election.”

If the council secures a two-thirds majority vote in favor of the amendment, and the public votes in favor by a simple majority, then the charter amendment passes.

The other way to pass the amendment would be to obtain both a unanimous vote from the council and the mayor’s approval, but Mayor Jacob Frey has said he does not support the total elimination of the police department.

The City Council voted in December to move almost $8 million out of the MPD, after $14 million had already been moved from the police department in Mayor Frey’s budget proposal. The $7.7 million moved by the council was reallocated to a “Safety for All” budget plan.