Minneapolis City Council approves plan to create new public safety system
The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously passed a resolution to create a "transformative new model for cultivating safety" following the death of George Floyd in police custody last month. The vote comes days after nine of the city's 13 council members announced their intent to disband the city's police department.
The resolution kicks off a year-long process of "community engagement, research, and structural change to create a transformative new model for cultivating safety in our city."
The city is also establishing a "Future of Community Safety Work Group" that will report back to the council by July 24 with recommendations for engaging with community members on the transition into the new public safety model. The group will be comprised of members from several government agencies, including the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Civil Rights, the 911 Working Group, and the Division of Race and Equity.
"The City Council will engage with every willing community member in Minneapolis, centering the voices of Black people, American Indian people, people of color, immigrants, victims of harm, and other stakeholders who have been historically marginalized or under-served by our present system," the resolution says. "Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone."
The council's resolution makes clear that the death of George Floyd has pushed reform alone off the table: "No amount of reforms will prevent lethal violence and abuse by some members of the Police Department against members of our community, especially Black people and people of color."
"Decades of police reform efforts have not created equitable public safety in our community, and our efforts to achieve transformative public safety will not be deterred by the inertia of existing institutions, contracts, and legislation," reads the resolution; which also quotes Angela Davis in stating: "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist."
Efforts to dismantle the city's police department have been supported by a majority of the city council. Mayor Jacob Frey, however, has opposed such a move.
"What I will say is that I am committed to that deep structural reform," Frey said in a press conference Wednesday. "If you're talking about having a full culture shift in the Minneapolis Police Department, I am on board. If you're talking about making sure that we're not criminalizing poverty or addiction in making sure that we have a different conceptual approach to how we handle it, I am fully on board. But if you're talking about abolishing the police department, no, I am not."
Steve Fletcher, one of the council members, told CBSN earlier this week that the council intends to "end the Minneapolis police department as we know it," Fletcher told CBSN. The proposed structural changes would put an emphasis on crime prevention before crime-stopping, he said.
In the resolution, the council notes that this year's city budget allocated $193 million to the police department — representing over 36% of the City's General Fund. This is more than the combined city budgets for many initiatives in the city, including workforce development, affordable housing construction, small business support programs, environmental sustainability, and youth development, among others.
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