The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a change to the city charter on Friday to dismantle the police department.
The 12-0 vote is the first step in a process to get the measure on November’s ballot for city voters to vote on, The Associated Press reported.
The change comes following protests over the death of George Floyd on May 25 after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest.
The proposal next goes to a policy committee before it is passed on to the city’s Charter Commission for formal review.
“I hope that the Charter Commission will recognize the moment that we are in and take our offer of support, however we can provide it, to expedite this process so that voters have a chance to have their voices heard on this important question and this important moment in our city’s history,” Council President Lisa Bender said.
The draft posted online said that the police department would be replaced with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”
The appointed director of the new agency “will have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.”
The Minneapolis Police and Peace Officers Association said dismantling the police department will create “an unsafe environment.”
Barry Clegg, the chairman of the city’s Charter Commission, said the entire process feels rushed because the proposed amendment would have to be finalized by Aug. 21 in order to be on November’s ballot.
“As I understand it, they are saying, ‘We are going to have this new department. We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. We won’t implement this for a year, we’ll figure it out,'” Clegg said.
“For myself anyway, I would prefer that we figured it out first, and then voted on it.”
Mayor Jacob Frey also said the bill lacks “clarity.”
Minneapolis isn’t the only city trying to do away with its police department.
Unarmed social workers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will be responding to specific 911 calls instead of the police department.
Democratic Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of Albuquerque Community Safety, which will serve alongside the Albuquerque Police Department and Albuquerque Fire Department, as a “first-of-its-kind” department to respond to calls on inebriation, homelessness, addiction and mental health.
Local Minneapolis store owner Don Blyly, whose bookstores were destroyed by arson, said he won’t reopen in Minneapolis if the city’s leaders push through a “sufficiently stupid” plan.
“There are legitimate problems with the Minneapolis police, but the way the politicians are going about it is just ridiculous,” Blyly told the AP. “They are pandering to a certain segment of the electorate.”
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