Proposal to abolish Minneapolis Police Department delayed past November ballot

Proposal to abolish Minneapolis Police Department delayed past November ballot

The Minneapolis City Council’s proposal to dismantle the city’s police department will not be on the November ballot after the Minneapolis Charter Commission voted Wednesday to take more time to review the plan.

Back in June, after the police killing of George Floyd, the City Council voted to remove from the city charter the requirement to maintain a police department. That vote was the first step in a longer process to change the charter.

The Council proposed replacing the police department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, which would provide a “holistic, public health-oriented approach,” as well as a Division of Law Enforcement Services.

“We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe,” Council President Lisa Bender told CNN at the time.

But on Wednesday, in a 10-5 vote, the Charter Commission elected to take an additional 90 days to review the Council’s proposal. The delay means this proposal now misses the statutory deadline of August 21 and will not appear on the November ballot for voters to decide.

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is a state agency that exercises oversight of the city charter. Its 15 members are appointed by the district court, acting through its chief judge, according to the city.

The chair of the Charter Commission said he will likely call a special meeting next week to develop a work plan for the next 90 days.

The legal maneuverings are part of the broader debate about the role of police in American society. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked protests across the country under the Black Lives Matter movement, and some activists have pushed to “defund the police” and rethink public safety.

On Twitter, Bender expressed her disappointment with the Commission’s decision to delay.

“The Charter Commission’s vote is disappointing and creates barriers to change but it will not stop our work to re-imagine public safety in (Minneapolis). Our work always was and remains multi-pronged, including a 911 workgroup, MPD staffing study, investment in violence prevention & more,” she wrote.