MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis voters will decide this November whether to replace the city's police department with a new public safety agency, one of the most consequential referendums in city history.
A 'yes' vote would launch a two-step process: a major structural change would happen right away. Then, the Minneapolis City Council would decide next year how many police officers to keep and how to restrict their roles.
Early voting ahead of November's election starts Sept. 17. The proposal voters will see is just 47 words. The actual changes to the city charter, which take up two and a half pages, won't be printed on the ballot.
Three prominent Minnesota Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz, and U.S. Rep. Angie Craig -- have said they oppose the ballot proposal, drawing a flood of criticism from political activists but likely winning over suburban voters.
What will the charter change do?
A 'yes' vote would strike the Minneapolis Police Department from the city charter, replacing it with a new public safety agency. The new agency could have police officers "if necessary," according to the charter language.
Yes, the city will have police officers going forward because state law requires a police response for at least 13 types of incidents, including reports of domestic violence and serving a search warrant, according to a September 2020 memo from the city attorney.
How many officers will there be?
It's unclear how many officers Minneapolis will have -- and what they'll be allowed to do.
Voters won't settle those questions. Instead, they'll be up to next year's City Council and mayor. We don't know who will hold those positions because every seat is up for election this November.
The council would no longer need to fund a minimum number of police employees, which is currently 730.
The council could also pass ordinances saying what officers can and cannot do. Now, the mayor and police chief have authority over police policy.
What happens to the chief?
The position of police chief is eliminated along with the Minneapolis Police Department, something that has become a major campaign issue because of current chief Medaria Arradondo's relative popularity when compared with his department.
That has made Arradondo a political issue for both sides of the ballot proposal.
Opponents mailed a four-page, glossy flyer to voters this week telling them the proposal gets rid of Arradondo. "Keep Chief Arradondo's reforms moving forward," the mailer said.
The proposal's backers say Arradondo could be hired as the new commissioner of public safety -- something that would require mayoral nomination and approval from the City Council -- or be brought on to lead the police function within the new agency.
Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group pushing the ballot proposal, recently sued the city to get wording that referenced the police chief's removal taken off the ballot.
Last Friday, in a flurry of activity that included two Mayor Jacob Frey vetoes, the City Council passed final ballot language that doesn't include an explanatory note.