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The Crucial Vote to Remove and Replace MPD

Olivia Allery, news editor

On the ballot this November, voters in Minneapolis will be able to decide whether or not to disband the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and replace it with a new Department of Public Safety (DPS). In light of so many cases of police violence and the murder of George Floyd, the city is questioning of how fit police, specifically the MPD, are at responding to various situations. 

In early 2021, progressive and racial justice groups collectively called “Yes 4 Minneapolis” collected over 20,000 signatures for the amendment to be put on this ballot. The initiative was pushed by these groups after Minneapolis City Council’s  proposal was struck down twice to reform the MPD in response to Floyd’s murder in May of 2020. The ballot initiative is backed by U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota State Governor Tim Walz and Mayor Jacob Frey.  

This vote will be on Nov. 2 and be in favor to remove the MPD and replace it with the DPS. According to the amendment, the DPS would have a more focused public health approach to safety. This includes hiring licensed peace officers to the force in order to fulfil the new department responsibilities. The department would also be under the control of the mayor as well as the city council, rather than just the mayor alone. 

“With the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings, this has really shown us the inherent failures of our current policing system and also showing our failures at attempts to reform it in the past,” said Robin Wonsley Worlobah, a City Council electie for Ward 2, in an interview with the Echo.“Studies have shown for decades that meeting crises of violence and poverty with more police does not decrease the crime rate but instead increases incarceration rates, and we need to take a comprehensive approach that invests in people’s livable wages, housing, and schools along with addressing the issues of public safety that cannot be met with policing alone.” 

“The City Question 2 vote will be an interesting test of the influence of the movement to disband the police.” says Professor Andrew Aoki. He continues by saying, “Since many supporters seem to be suggesting that disbanding the police isn’t their goal, it probably won’t be a test of the degree of public support for abolishing the police force but rather a test of the ability of these groups to mobilize their supporters and sway some undecided voters. A key policy consequence would be that it should be easier to reduce the size of the force considerably, if the measure passes.”

Since the murder of George Floyd, the MPD has lost about a third of the force due to a number of resignations, retirements and reports of PTSD from officers. The department is also facing state and federal investigations into MPD officers on violating the civil rights of those arrested. Mayor Jacob Frey has instituted some policies in hopes to reduce the chance of police violence. These policies include banning the choke hold, limiting traffic stops and requiring that officers intervene when a partner is using excessive force. 

If you want to find out more information about the amendment, as well as other amendments being voted on this coming election, check out vote.minneapolismn.gov for more information and be sure to register to vote.