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Informational Session on Yes on Question 2

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Yes 4 Minneapolis?

Yes 4 Minneapolis is a Black-led, multiracial campaign composed of grassroots, community organizations, small businesses, mental health professionals and individuals who believe a people’s petition is the best path forward for implementing a new Department of Public Safety in Minneapolis. Read more about us here.

Why is this an issue of racial representation and democracy?

Currently, the Mayor of Minneapolis has “unilateral and complete power” over the Minneapolis Police Department. This unilateral and complete power is not held in any other department in the city. All other departments function with citywide democratic representation – having the Mayoral and City Council nominate and appoint a department commissioner.

Because of the inequitable history of Minneapolis redlining, unjust districting, and disenfranchisement by voter suppression and oppression over the years, a Mayor in Minneapolis only needs to appeal to a handful of wards in the city in order to win their seat. This sadly means that a Mayor in Minneapolis, unlike other cities in MN that have less segregation and fairer democratic representation, has the ability to govern with only the interest of the wealthiest and racially whitest wards in the city. By putting Public Safety in the hands of city-wide democratic representation through city council members, the Mayor and a commissioner, we can align this department with all the other departments of the city, making it fairer and more equitable for all.

Regardless if you like or dislike the current Mayor, the current structure disempowers the most racially diverse and poorest neighborhoods. The person who holds the position as Mayor will inevitably change over time, the current structure is not guaranteed to until we get serious about this issue and change it.

The goal is to make long term policies to reflect our values of safety, humanity and dignity, not individual personalities or people.

 

What does a “comprehensive public health approach” mean?

The necessity for all community members to be and feel safe is a common thread that everyone shares. When violence, harm, and crime happen, that’s not just an individual issue, that’s a public health problem.

Updating the city charter to utilize a comprehensive public health approach to public safety that is more humane, includes police along with professionals who are trained in mental health issues, gang intervention, drug and alcohol-induced interactions, homeless outreach, crisis de-escalation, and treats all members of the community equally, regardless of race or class. So, not only are we providing safety measures for immediate and emergency needs, we are also creating the conditions to lower harm over time, ensuring a safer and more equitable Minneapolis for generations to come!

How does this change address gun violence & crime in the community?

The people of Minneapolis deserve to be and feel safe in their neighborhoods and communities. We already see that the current model of armed police-only isn’t working. Police violence is evident, while communities are also seeing overall violence on the rise, 9-1-1 response times differ based on your neighborhood, and we still have not addressed the root causes of crime and violence, like poverty, unstable housing, and inequitable access to good schools. 

This model allows the city of Minneapolis to address gun violence and crime in a way that the city is currently unable to do. We know this to be true by the recent uptick in violence and the ups and downs that we see over time. Unlike what you may have heard, the rate of crime and violence over time doesn’t show a direct correlation with the number of armed police responding.

The Department of Public Safety will have the flexibility necessary in staffing and resources for BOTH intervention and prevention.

A Real-Life Example of Why the Current Model Doesn’t Work: Currently, there is a minimum number of armed police officers per capita, citywide. There isn’t flexibility on other types of responders, even though the majority of calls to police are not law enforcement related (according to Police Chief Arradondo). Resourced communities are safe communities, and in Minneapolis, some areas of the city – because of issues like low wages, unstable housing and inequitable access to quality education and healthcare – have much higher calls to police, including ones that would require a police response. Yet, these neighborhoods get the same number of police officers as areas of the city with far less calls. Even worse for everyone, we call on armed-police to show up in many situations that they are unequipped, untrained & unqualified for. This unfortunately causes escalation and more harm, resulting in distrust and mistrust – while exacerbating the racial disparities we see in Minneapolis. 

Will there be “14 bosses” of the police, mental health professionals and other qualified experts?

No. The talking point from the handful of powerful and wealthy few who want to hold on to the status quo and keep the power of the city’s public safety with the Police Federation, are trying to scare people into thinking there will be “chaos and bureaucracy.”

What there will actually be is representative democracy. We already have a functioning blueprint on how this works, where the appointed commissioner will be the point of oversight with the department. We currently use that infrastructure in every other department in the city, from the Fire Department to the Department of Public Works.

Changing the charter finally allows the people of Minneapolis to have oversight – just like they do currently with every other department in the city – through citywide representative democracy by adding a commissioner with city council members and the mayor. The current structure unique to the Police Department of only mayoral oversight has resulted in an insulated department solely managed by an isolated but influential police federation system and an unhealthy “wall of silence” that has resulted in an erosion of trust and a disregard for the will of the public. It has also resulted in lopsided representation, where some wards hold more power than others. This lopsided structure has mimicked the racial and economic inequities of the city.

The amendment will strengthen and improve oversight by having Public Safety policies and procedures debated and voted on in public rather than behind closed doors between the mayor and chief. This streamlines and simplifies city governance by aligning its structure and policy oversight with all the other city charter departments like the Legal department; Civil Rights Department; Department of Community Planning and Economic Development; Fire Department, Health Department, Public Works Department; Purchasing Department; and Regulatory Services Department. These departments have an internal hierarchy and similarly, the current and future law enforcement leads/chiefs can work with the city’s other measures of support.

 

Is voting ‘yes’ saying ‘I want to defund the police’?

By voting Yes you are voting for a funded, accountable and expanded Department of Public Safety. This means police working with qualified professionals, like mental health responders and social workers, to make all our communities safer.

What about Chief Arrandondo? He’s been trying to do reforms.

Nothing in this charter update requires Chief Arrandondo to be removed from power or position with police officers or other professionals. He is a person who some would like to see in a leadership role as we continue to update and reform our public safety system.

Chief Arrandondo has been trying to change the culture of MPD for his entire tenure, but has not been able to do so in any meaningful way because of the Police Federation, who have blocked every attempt at meaningful reform. The Department of Public Safety would allow us to finally implement many of the changes that the Chief has been advocating for years, with city-wide support and leverage to do so.

 

If this passes, will it get rid of the police?

This amendment will replace the Minneapolis police department, not the police. It gives the residents and people citywide the flexibility to staff and fund professionals, training, and resources needed. Currently, we can’t do any of those things. The scary talking points from the opposition that this gets rid of the police are unfounded and lies. There is a state mandate that police officers handle certain kinds of issues. Police will be a part of the Department of Public Safety, but in a way that is accountable, transparent, and more disciplined than we currently have them operating.

 

What will happen after this passes? I need to know the plan before I vote yes.

After this passes, in the first 30 day transition to the Department of Public Safety the MPD police officers will become Minneapolis DPS police officers. Then, City Council and the Mayor will work with our community, updated research, health, crime and violence statistics for the city, to pass ordinances that integrate police with trained professionals, such as mental health providers, sexual violence responders, and substance abuse experts.

Voting YES is removing the block to be able to add these other experts and strategies. This is the first step to fully funded and comprehensive public safety.

It’s important to note that the community engagement process with citywide elected officials can not begin until after the amendment passes because of campaign ethics. BUT, community engagement is already underway in a neighborhood near you! Get involved.

Read more about the plan here.

How does the Department of Public Safety Get Funded?

The funding for the Department of Public Safety would come from the same place as the money for MPD – the city budget. Currently, the City Charter mandates 35% of the city budget go to armed-police only. This amendment would remove that requirement and allow the city to be more flexible and efficient with how it spends its public safety funds.

 

Where can I find info about the other Ballot Questions?

This year in Minneapolis, voters will see three questions on their 2021 ballot that propose changes to the City Charter. Check out our Minneapolis Ballot Question Voter Guide here for a simple breakdown of what the proposed amendments will do, and why we’re voting NO on Question 1, YES on Question 2, and YES on Question 3.

 

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