Minneapolis City Council overrides veto to finalize ballot language on policing changes

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday evening to override a second veto by the mayor's office over language for the November ballot that will be used as citizens debate replacing the police department in the city charter.

As a result, the ballot question will now read as follows:

"Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed peace officers {police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety? 

Twice over the past two days, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed ballot language for the public safety question that was approved by the City Council, leaving only hours on Friday left before the submission deadline.

The ballot question at the center of the debate asks voters if they would support amending the city charter to replace the police department with a public safety department.

Frey vetoed the language the council approved this morning, causing the council to reconvene at 3:30 p.m. After falling a vote short of overriding the veto, council members discussed revised language created by Council members Lisa Bender, Andrea Jenkins, Andrew Johnson and Jamal Osman. After about an hour of discussion, the council approved their version on a 9 to 4 vote. 

"We’ve been spending all morning and most of the afternoon today to this point trying to come up with some resolution to ensure that we honor and respect the petitioners we have put this amendment this forward and to really begin the process of reimaging public safety as it is in the city of Minneapolis," said Jenkins. "This has been a really good faith effort to come to this compromise."

However, during the afternoon meeting, Frey voiced he felt the new language was still not transparent enough for voters.

Frey has argued the question lacks enough information for voters to understand all of the impacts, such as removing the police chief and mandatory staffing minimums for police officers, and having the new department head report to the mayor and all council members instead of just the mayor.

This information was included in an explanatory note, but a judge ordered the city to remove the note from the question after the activist group Yes 4 Minneapolis filed a lawsuit. The order stated that while the city is allowed to have an explanatory note, the proposed explanatory note "read much like a warning label."

Friday evening, the Minneapolis City Clerk said with the ballot question – along with two others up for consideration in November – have been sent to Hennepin County.