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Minneapolis voters to decide on agency to replace police department

The Hill logo The Hill 7/24/2021 Jordan Williams
Minneapolis voters to decide on agency to replace police department © Getty Images Minneapolis voters to decide on agency to replace police department

Minneapolis voters are set to decide on whether to replace the police department with a new agency.

The Minneapolis City Council voted on Friday to allow voters to determine whether to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, according to the council's website.

Voters will take up the measure during the Municipal General Election on Nov. 2.

The proposal comes after Minneapolis became the center of attention amid the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, an incident which sparked nationwide outrage and unrest.

Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes during an arrest despite his pleas that he could not breath. The incident resulted in Floyd's death. The former officer was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison last month.


Video: Minneapolis City Council moves to have residents vote on replacing police department (KARE-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul)

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Under the proposal, the Department of Public Safety would employ a "comprehensive public health approach, and which would include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety," according to the approved language.

The department would be led by a commissioner for Public Safety, as opposed to the Mayor having complete control over the department.

The measure was originally proposed by Yes 4 Minneapolis, which describes itself on its website as a "unifying campaign bringing together voters, faith leaders, labor unions, businesses, and more because we have an opportunity to create a system that works for all of us."

The measure has been submitted to Mayor Jacob Frey (D) who was given days to approve the measure, according to Fox 9. If he approves it or decides not sign it, the language is submitted to be placed on the ballot by Aug. 20.

Should Frey veto the measure, the City Council would need a two-thirds majority to override the veto, according to CNN.

Frey's office told CNN that he will "not be signing the measure, but appreciates the careful work and thorough analysis done by City staff to prepare fair and accurate language for voters to consider this fall."

Frey's office further told CNN, "Mayor Frey maintains that giving the Minneapolis City Council control over public safety work would mark a major setback for accountability and good governance."

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