Minneapolis Voters Reject Measure to Disband the Police Department

Voters in Minneapolis have rejected an unprecedented proposal to disband the police department at the ballot box. The measure asked residents if they supported modifying the city charter to create a Department of Public Safety to replace the Minneapolis Police Department.

Fox News reported that the initiative would have eliminated wording pertaining to the agency from the charter and minimum financing requirements. The initiative also would have divided management of public safety between the mayor and the City Council.

In an effort to re-imagine policing amid perceived tense relationships between law enforcement and minority communities around the country, the ballot issue would have effectively stripped power from the mayor and police chief. The vote took place on Tuesday as Minneapolis, like other cities, deals with an increase in violent crime. The proposed public safety department would have used a “comprehensive public health approach” to policing, putting a greater focus on public health, especially mental health.

The initiative was sponsored by Yes 4 Minneapolis, a combination of companies and other organizations that gathered 22,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.

It was challenged in court, but the Minnesota Supreme Court declared that voters would have the last say on the issue. The organization said the measure’s goal was to provide alternatives to cops for responding to non-police-related calls.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, the initiative failed 57% to 44%, with nearly all precincts reported. The measure needed 51% of the vote to pass.

Pastor Jerry McAfee of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis told Fox News:

“I’m ecstatic, elated, and saddened at the same time because the elected officials who pushed this thing through left the people that they were supposed to represent and got off into their own personality. They dragged and diverted the attention of what’s really going on in our community to something that is a problem but is minuscule when you look at the cause of violence and everything that goes with it.”

McAfee also noted, “If they would have given the people a plan to look at, it could have won. You don’t know what you were going to vote on.”

Advocates of the measure maintain that the bill is not intended to defund the police.

Following the announcement of the initiative’s failure, Erica Mauter, a Minneapolis resident who supported it, said, “I am disappointed that people appear to be coming from a place of fear. When we’re uncertain about the future or when change feels tenuous, we want to go back to what made us feel comfortable and to what we already know. We have to challenge ourselves to have some imagination about different paths to a safer Minneapolis.”

The vote gave Minneapolis residents their first chance to weigh in on police reform since the May 2020 death of George Floyd and the ensuing chaos.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who is running for re-election, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz reportedly opposed the measure. Far-left State Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rep. Ilhan Omar supported it.

As of October 9, the Minneapolis police department had 591 sworn officers down from 853 in 2018, according to a police spokesperson.

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