MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Election night is two days away, and candidates are making their final push to rally up voters before then. But in Minneapolis, for many voters, the future of the city’s police department is top of mind.
A question on the ballot, 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?
It also 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.
Kate Knuth is running to replace Jacob Frey as mayor of Minneapolis, and she supports a Yes vote for Question 2.
"My vision of that department absolutely includes police as an essential part, but I think Minneapolis is ready to have a conversation and do the work of building a public safety system," Knuth told FOX 9 on Sunday. "We need to dig in to creating a path towards a Minneapolis where every single person is safe in our city."
Incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey is in favor of a No vote, and across town, on Sunday a group of Minneapolis firefighters agreed.
"Help us, help you, vote no on Question 2," Minneapolis Fire Local 82 President Mark Lakosky said.
A group of firefighters with Lakosky says the understaffed Minneapolis Police Department is getting in the way of their ability to do their job; because city policy says firefighters must wait for police officers to secure dangerous scenes before firefighters can get to work, but with the police department down a third of its officers, that wait-time has increased.
"Can you imagine being a victim of domestic assault and no one‘s coming in for 40, let’s say 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes?" Lakosky said. "None of this is political, right now we’re overwhelmed, response times are not what’s being expected, at no fault to us."