MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The City of Minneapolis sent a series of questions and answers to members of the city’s police department regarding what will happen should voters pass the proposed public safety charter amendment next week.
The question on the ballot asks Minneapolis voters if they want to amend the city’s charter, eliminating the Minneapolis Police Department and replacing it with a Department of Public Safety and getting rid of the police chief and the city’s required number of police officers.
The ballot question, labeled as City Question 2, reads:
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?
The ballot question includes the following explanatory note:
This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.
Below is the Q&A sent to MPD staff by the interim city coordinator.
Will all of the police department employees be out of a job on November 3 if the amendment passes?
No. Current labor agreements will continue to be in place.
Will we have to reapply for our jobs if a new department is created?
No. Current labor agreements and City benefits will continue to be in place.
Will there be police officers in the new department?
Yes. State law requires that certain duties be performed only by licensed peace officers.
What happens to the chain of command? Who is in charge?
Immediately following the election, the current chain of command will remain in place. If passed, the new Charter language would become effective 30 days following the election, or on December 3, 2021.
When will the City Council decide what the new department will look like?
Creation of a new department will take time. The primary action that must be accomplished by the effective date is the appointment of an interim commissioner to lead the new Department of Public Safety; the commissioner is correspondingly vested with the performance of all law enforcement services currently provided through MPD. This step ensures command and continuity of service. The new Council and Mayor would then be responsible for finalizing the ultimate form and functions of the new department through several policy decisions in 2022 and beyond.
Will we still be working under the terms set out in the contract if the amendment passes?
Approval of Question 2 does not alter the terms in the labor contracts.
What happens after 30 days?
If Question 2 is passed, the City will continue to have licensed peace officers providing law enforcement services. There will be a longer-term process led by the City Council that will result in ordinance changes and that process will ultimately create a new structure for a public safety department.