MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Public safety in Minnesota's largest city could be in for a massive overhaul.
This time next week, we will know where voters stand. "City Question 2" on the ballot will replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
WCCO has been reporting on this for months, but what exactly will happen if voters say yes?
This week, the city addressed the uncertainty and stress that may be felt by Minneapolis Police Department staff, telling them the city doesn't have all the answers, but they answered what they could. That included letting them know they still have a job if voters say yes.
"That has to change, but we just don't know how to go about that. But voting would probably be a great step," resident Erin Stanback said.
Some voters say they're unsure what any of this really means.
"What the heck is gonna happen after we vote?" resident Gary Averill said.
Here's what we do know: If voters say yes to change, there will still be police officers on Nov. 3. They won't have to reapply for their jobs, and the chain of command stays in place for 30 days.
"There isn't that rush. The 30 days is almost arbitrary," city council member Phillipe Cunningham said. "The police department will continue to exist via ordinance."
Cunningham says within that time, an interim commissioner would be named and lead the new department.
"This is really a fairly basic system reorganization where we're just consolidating under one department the different public safety services and functions," Cunningham said.
Information the city put out says the council would lead a longer-term process that would then create the structure for a public safety department.
People still have questions.
"There's so many open variables. Will the police still want to change if it doesn't go through? If it does go through, will the council go too far," Averill said.
If voters choose no, the police department will remain with Medaria Arradondo as chief. It will be up to whoever is elected mayor to decide next steps on any police reform.
Here's what was sent to Minneapolis Police staff:
There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our world today. This is especially true in the area of public safety, and particularly true with the Minneapolis Police Department. We recognize this uncertainty and the stress it must cause our MPD employees.
We have heard many questions from you about what happens if Question 2 is passed by the voters of Minneapolis. Although we don't have all of the answers, we wanted to provide you with information based on some of the questions you have raised. We realize this email won't answer every question, but we hope it provides some assurance as to the questions that may be of most concern to you:
1. Will all of the police department employees be out of a job on November 3 if the amendment passes? No. Current labor agreements will continue to be in place.
2. Will we have to reapply for our jobs if a new department is created? No. Current labor agreements and City benefits will continue to be in place.
3. Will there be police officers in the new department? Yes. State law requires that certain duties be performed only by licensed peace officers.
4. What happens to the chain of command? Who is in charge? Immediately following the election, the current chain of command will remain in place. If passed, the new Charter language would become effective 30 days following the election, or on December 3, 2021.
5. When will the City Council decide what the new department will look like? Creation of a new department will take time. The primary action that must be accomplished by the effective date is the appointment of an interim commissioner to lead the new Department of Public Safety; the commissioner is correspondingly vested with the performance of all law enforcement services currently provided through MPD. This step ensures command and continuity of service. The new Council and Mayor would then be responsible for finalizing the ultimate form and functions of the new department through several policy decisions in 2022 and beyond.
6. Will we still be working under the terms set out in the contract if the amendment passes? Approval of Question 2 does not alter the terms in the labor contracts.
7. What happens after 30 days? If Question 2 is passed, the City will continue to have licensed peace officers providing law enforcement services. There will be a longer term process led by the City Council that will result in ordinance changes and that process will ultimately create a new structure for a public safety department.
We recognize this is a stressful time for all of you and has been for quite some time. You all have dealt with so much and through it all continued to show up to serve and protect our community. As your City colleagues, we want you to know that we value your contributions and commitment and are here to support you. We hope that this information will ease some of your concerns.
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