The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed an amendment that will allow the police department to be abolished. The 12-0 vote was made following a month of worldwide protests against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of four now-former Minneapolis police officers.
The amendment to the city's charter seeks to abolish the current police department and replace it with a new agency, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The agency "will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach," and will be headed by somebody with "non-law-enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches."
The proposal wouldn't do away with police officers entirely. Under the plan, "licensed police officers" would work for the Division of Law Enforcement Services, which would be part of the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
"It's a structural change," Council President Lisa Bender said, "that allows us to invest in a holistic approach to safety, using evidence-based strategies using the brilliance and expertise of our staff from all different disciplines, with all different kinds of experience."
The next step in the process is for the amendment to undergo a formal review by the city's Charter Commission. Citizens and elected officials will be able to weigh-in during the review process. If the Charter Commission approves the amendment, it will be put on the ballot in the general election in November.
"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," Bender said.
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