Minneapolis residents weigh in on plan to replace police department

A Minneapolis police squad vehicle. (FOX 9)

People in Minneapolis got a chance to weigh in Thursday on a proposal to replace the police department in the city charter being put on the November ballot.

The charter change has been a hot issue since the death of George Floyd last May. The current proposal would take out the current language for the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety.

The new department would still include a Division of Law Enforcement Services that officials say would include armed officers. However, the proposal would remove a requirement that the city fund a police force of a certain size as determined by the city's population.

At a hearing of the city's Public Health and Safety committee on Thursday, people spoke in favor and against the change being put on a ballot in November. Councilmembers listened to about 75 city residents share their thoughts on the change.

If voters passed the change, it would remove the police department as a standalone charter department and instead put it under the control of city council instead of the mayor.

"I'm disgusted that so many officers abandoned their jobs to avoid any accountability for their crimes against Black people since George Floyd’s murder and I think it’s brutally obvious that their abdication is responsible for the rise in crime," said one speaker.

"You have caused enough pain and damage to our city with your divisive radical proposal to push public safety," another speaker argued. "We don’t want you to exert more control of public safety. We want you to have less. We don’t want you to further reduce police, we want more police. We want to feel safe again."

While the opinions differed, it was clear residents have either lost faith in the council or lost trust in the Minneapolis Police Department. Some were concerned that Chief Arradondo has not been part of this conversation.

No decision was made Thursday on whether to push the measure forward. The issue will be taken up again at the next committee hearing on March 4.