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Vote YES on Question 2!

CITY QUESTION 2

Department of Public Safety

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?

Explanatory Note:

This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.

FAQs about the Ballot Question

Does “strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety” mean abolish or defund the police?

No, it does not. This has been a lie perpetuated by the handful of very wealthy and powerful people who want to keep the Police Federation stronghold on the city through the city charter.  

The Minneapolis Police Department as the container for police officers in the city charter, will be replaced with the Department of Public Safety. Police officers will be relocated to that expanded container, allowing for other types of professionals, experts and strategies in crisis response and violence prevention.  

This change includes removing the rigidity of a minimum number of armed-police officers per capita and allows flexibility to staff and resource the department using up-to-date statistical and experiential information about the current needs of the city. The current arbitrary number of armed-police staff was created in 1961. The democratic, effective and efficient way to handle this through the ordinance process.

  1. Fact: Of all of the charter cities in Minnesota with a population of 20,000 or more, – 31 cities total – Minneapolis is the only one with a minimum police staffing requirement. The majority of these cities don’t even have a specific requirement for a police department at all in the city charter. They handle this through the common ordinance process. 
  2. Mayor Jacob Frey’s Stance:
    Several times, Mayor Frey has stated blatantly, “I’m not for a minimum number – within the charter.” You can read that sentiment here from January 2021 or hear him say it here at a charter commission meeting held Sept. 29, 2020.
  3. If the mayor is for removing the minimum number, why is he against this charter update?
  4. That answer can be found here.
What does “could include peace officers (police officers) if necessary” mean?

The people of Minneapolis agree that there are certain situations where it is necessary for a well-trained and disciplined police officer to respond to a situation. The MN state statute also agrees with the people of Minneapolis because it is mandated that police officers are the assigned group of people to particular situations. We also know that the majority of situations where people need help, a police officer is not the appropriate response. Yet, we currently do not have an integrated, resourced and sustained department that is focused on public safety, crisis response and violence prevention… yet. That is what the people of Minneapolis get to vote on this fall.

What does “administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments” mean?

Currently, the Mayor of Minneapolis has “unilateral and complete power” over the Minneapolis Police Department. The Police Department is the only city department with this structure. All other departments function with shared oversight from the Mayor and City Council, the Department of Public Safety would be no different. Having the Mayor and City Council nominate and appoint a department commissioner, the city’s public safety functions will finally be managed by citywide democratic representation. 

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 structure in place rigs the rules against 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 change until we get serious about this problem and change it. 

Our Proposed Charter Update

Our people’s petition will strike the section of the City Charter (Section 7.3) that requires the City of Minneapolis to rely solely on police to uphold community safety. We will replace it with the following language:

Our people’s petition will strike the section of the City Charter (Section 7.3) that requires the City of Minneapolis to rely solely on police to uphold community safety. We will replace it with the following language:

7.3. Public Safety.

(a) Department of Public Safety.

(1) Function: The Department of Public Safety is responsible for integrating its public safety functions into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.

(2) Commissioner of Public Safety Department.

(a) The Mayor nominates and the City Council appoints a commissioner of the department of public safety under section 8.4.

Additional changes:

The people’s petition will also strike the words “police department” in Section 7.4(c) and replace it with “department of public safety.”

In Section 8.2(d)(5), which include language related to the appointment of a police chief, the people’s petition will strike:

“in the case of the police chief, on the first weekday in January that is not a holiday in the year the appointment starts;”

We will replace it with the following language:

“in the case of any other office, as any applicable ordinance provides, otherwise upon election or appointment.”

See the city document of the proposed charter change here.

All of this information is a little wonky. I need help understanding.

We get it! City governance can feel overwhelming. We want to make sure everyone can participate in keeping one another safe and make an informed decision.

Here is an impartial piece written by a lawyer on the amendment.* It breaks down charter change in understandable chunks, as well as the impact of each thing the charter change will do.

*Writer is not affiliated with the campaign and we were not consulted when he wrote this piece.

What does “administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments” mean?

Currently, the Mayor of Minneapolis has “unilateral and complete power” over the Minneapolis Police Department. The Police Department is the only city department with this structure. All other departments function with shared oversight from the Mayor and City Council, the Department of Public Safety would be no different. Having the Mayor and City Council nominate and appoint a department commissioner, the city’s public safety functions will finally be managed by citywide democratic representation. 

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 structure in place rigs the rules against 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 change until we get serious about this problem and change it.