Minneapolis voters to decide on police replacement measure


Minneapolis voters are preparing to either reject or approve a measure Tuesday that could possibly dismantle the city’s police department and replace it with another law enforcement agency in the first real decision facing residents after the region became the epicenter of the police reform movement last year following the death of George Floyd. 

Those headed to the ballot box will be faced with electing a new mayor and other initiatives, including whether they approve of a city charter amendment to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, which would be under the control of the mayor and city council. 

A majority of voters, meaning 51%, would need to endorse the measure for it to pass. 

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Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addresses the media regarding the proposed charter amendment that would replace the police department, during a new conference at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church last week in Minneapolis. Voters are headed to the polls Tuesday to decide the matter. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addresses the media regarding the proposed charter amendment that would replace the police department, during a new conference at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church last week in Minneapolis. Voters are headed to the polls Tuesday to decide the matter. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

Supporters say the move would overhaul how policing is conducted in the city. The goal is for the replacement law enforcement agency to employ an appropriate response depending on the type of call received. In other words, a counselor or social worker could respond to mental health calls instead of police officers. 

“I was raised to understand that when you get in trouble, you call 911 and someone on the other end is going to help. Most of the time, unless it’s fire, the helper is going to be a police officer,” Erica Mauter, a Minneapolis resident who supports the measure, told Fox News. “I’ve come to understand as I’ve lived more of my life that sometimes the right helper for the problem is not a police officer with a gun.”

On the flip side, opponents have voiced concerns over the measure’s vague language and how such a transition would be implemented and its impact on policing in Minnesota’s largest city. 

“They can’t just take the largest city in the state and take the police away and put in some social workers,” Kevin Rofidal, a retired police officer from the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, told Fox News. “The police aren’t the problem here. The problem is going to be who is going to show up at the polling place.”

“Is it the people in the high-crime neighborhoods or is it the progressive who just moved here and want to change the city?” he added. 

A spokesman for Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group that gathered 22,000 signatures to get the question on the ballot, told Fox News last week they want “public safety that prioritizes a public health lens so that we ensure that professionals who are trained in their fields are responding to calls that are relevant to those fields.”

Police investigate a shooting as protesters gather on Thursday, June 3, 2021 in Minneapolis.  Crowds vandalized buildings and stole from businesses in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood after officials said a man wanted for illegally possessing a gun was fatally shot by authorities.  (Richard.Tsong-Taatari/Star Tribune via AP)

Police investigate a shooting as protesters gather on Thursday, June 3, 2021 in Minneapolis.  Crowds vandalized buildings and stole from businesses in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood after officials said a man wanted for illegally possessing a gun was fatally shot by authorities.  (Richard.Tsong-Taatari/Star Tribune via AP)
(Richard.Tsong-Taatari/Star Tribune via AP)

Mauter, 43, said the spike in crime the city is facing follows a similar national trend and that the ballot question will be an opportunity to apply transparency to local law enforcement policy and officer misconduct. She also noted that police officers have been tasked with additional responsibilities outside of their training. 

“We’ve asked police to do a lot. We’ve asked them to do more and more and more,” she said. “You signed up to do one set of responsibilities and we’ve asked you to do a whole bunch of other things. It would be helpful for us as residents and to you as an officer for us to divide up that work and let the people who are best suited for each of those responses to do that work.”

Some Black residents told the Associated Press they don’t want to replace the police department over safety concerns. 

“Everybody says we want the police to be held accountable and we want fair policing. No one has said we need to get rid of the police,” Armstrong, a Black activist who owns a mental health practice and a clothing store, told the news outlet. “There needs to be a huge overhaul from the ground up, but we need some form of community safety because over here shots are ringing out day and night.”

“The issue of the police is not the number one thing that African-Americans are facing,” Rev. Jerry McAfee, a pastor at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, told Fox News last week. 

Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods on East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods on East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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Some Minneapolis police officers are feeling a level of uncertainty at a time when they are dealing with a crime surge, said Raofidal, who said he has spoken with someone rank-and-file members. 

“They say it’s out of control right now and the leadership in the department hasn’t been backing them,” he said. “There’s a lot of problems in Minneapolis but getting rid of the police isn’t going to solve anything.”

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