The change called for discarding minimal police staffing levels for the city and completely getting rid of the Minneapolis Police Department. Under the amendment, the city council would have more oversight of the agency, which replaced the police department, which would be focused on public health and, according to the ballot, “could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary.”
Proponents of the measure, which largely steered away from describing the plan as one to “defuse the police,” framed it as a way to help their city get past the pain of the past 18 months and create a new, fairer system . And they have disagreed with some opponents who say this is not a wise moment to replace the police department due to increasing gun violence in the streets.
“I find it fascinating that people are saying, ‘No, it’s the wrong time to do things that directly address the things that are bad right now,'” said JaNaé Bates, a minister who helped lead a campaign that supported the amendment and believes having more social workers and civil violence workers would do a better job of reducing gun violence than traditional policing.
Many Minneapolis residents say they remain shaken by the events that unfolded in the city, right from the video of an officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, to the protests and arson and looting that followed.
“We are going through some of the toughest and most difficult circumstances our city has ever faced,” Mr Frey told high school students during a debate this fall.
The question of how to react has divided Minnesota’s top Democrats. Representative Ilhan Omar, whose congressional district includes Minneapolis, and Keith Ellison, the Attorney General, supported the replacement of the police department. Their Senate Democrats, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, were against it.
Since Mr. Floyd’s murder has many large cities, including Minneapolis, invested more money in mental health services and experimenting with sending social workers instead of armed officers for some emergency calls. Some wards reduced minor traffic jams and arrests. And more cities are cutting police budgets amid national calls for repayment, though some have since restored funding in response to rising gun violence and shifting policies.
But no big city went so far as to get rid of its police force and replace it with something new.