A proposal to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department, but keep the police, passed its first hurdle Friday when City Council voted to refer it to a committee.
The plan, crafted by Council Members Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder, was moved on an 11-2 vote to the Public Health and Safety Committee for review and an eventual public hearing. Backers hope to get the proposal before voters on the November ballot as a charter amendment.
Lisa Goodman and Linea Palmisano voted against the motion to refer the plan to committee. Goodman, in an e-mail, said she felt the plan wasn’t detailed enough and didn’t think the council had fulfilled its promise to spend a year getting feedback from residents. Moving forward, she said, would be “reckless and create more harm than good.”
The plan calls for the city to create a new Department of Public Safety that includes not only police but “additional divisions … to provide for a comprehensive approach to public safety beyond law enforcement.”
It would also eliminate the current charter language that requires Minneapolis to have a minimum police force based on the city’s population.
Mayor Jacob Frey said he supports the idea of taking a broader approach to public safety but expressed concern that the plan would dilute accountability by extending oversight of the department to the 13 council members.
The Charter Commission kept a similar proposal off the ballot last year by invoking its right to take more time to review it. If the current proposal remains on track, the commission won’t be able to keep it off the ballot this fall.
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