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Yes 4 Minneapolis public safety amendment explained

The ballot amendment would shift power away from the Minneapolis Police Department and instead create a department of public safety — here’s what that means.
Yes 4 Minneapolis public safety amendment explained
Image by Hailee Schievelbein

For over a year, activists have been advocating to defund the police and shift power to other public safety professionals. Some of these activists say they see the Yes 4 Minneapolis charter amendment as their chance to make this happen.

On Nov. 2, citizens of Minneapolis will be able to vote “yes” or “no” on whether to replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) with a new Department of Public Safety. The new structure would aim to take a more comprehensive approach to public safety through multiple divisions of public health professionals.

The fight over the question

Local coalition Yes 4 Minneapolis petitioned for the charter amendment to end up as a city question on the ballot for the election. JaNae’ Bates, director of communications for the organization, said the process to get it on the ballot has been long and difficult, but she is hopeful that “democracy wins out” in the end.

“It’s in the hands of the people of Minneapolis to make a choice … realizing that if they choose anything else, they are choosing to stay stuck in the status quo,” Bates said.

Under the current Minneapolis charter, the mayor has complete control over MPD, with the power to appoint and discipline all employees and make rules within the department. It also requires that the city council funds a force of at least 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents, though the city is about 100 officers short of the 730 that are indicated as required by the most recent census.

The ballot question has cycled through multiple iterations due to challenges over the wording. Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the ballot language twice and two different lawsuits were brought against it, but the city council passed the updated version on Tuesday.

The current question includes an explanatory note, which says that: “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.”

Implications of amending

If 51% of voters decide to vote “yes” to amending the charter, it will go into effect. If a voter doesn’t fill out the question, it will not count toward the total.

As stated in the ballot language, the immediate result of passing the amendment will be the creation of a new Department of Public Safety and the end to minimum staffing requirements for police. The city council will share decision-making authority with the mayor over department operations.

“It creates the framework where we can make the change,” Ward 3 Council member Steve Fletcher said. “Setting up a leadership structure that decenters policing a little bit, so we can imagine other alternatives, is one important component of making necessary reforms.”

If the amendment is passed, Fletcher said he imagines the council will pass multiple ordinances quickly after the election. He said they would first likely move the Police Department into a division of the Department of Public Safety, which would also include a division of violence prevention and a division to handle mental health responses.

However, some believe that changing the charter is unnecessary and will do more harm than good. Leili Fatehi, campaign manager for All of Mpls, a DFL activist group against the ballot initiative, said meaningful police reform can still happen without the charter being changed.

“This notion that the city council is powerless to fund safety beyond policing, the notion that our city’s charter has locked us into a police-only model of public safety … is patently false,” Fatehi said.

Fletcher said he agrees there are other ways to make changes to the city’s system of public safety, but currently the mayor is the only politician who can directly change the operations of the Police Department.

“The mayor has had four years now to make these policy changes, and he hasn’t done it,” Fletcher said. “And many mayors and many chiefs before then also failed to do it. A charter change can’t be about this mayor and this chief and this council; it has to be about how we are going to govern for many mayors and many chiefs and many councils.”

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  • A Gopher
    Nov 17, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    75% of Minneapolis’ black population wanted no on 2, but yes on police reform. The fact that Q2 was so poorly written that it lost by 12 points in the liberal bastion of the North should tell you something. But go ahead and doggedly stick your head in the sand. Anyone receiving your vote will be getting an albatross and lose by more than 12 points because you’re such a total whack job.

  • Michelle Vietor
    Nov 14, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Oooh, quoting one black man as the opinion of all? Good one.

    Every upcoming election is another chance to get rid of this malfunctioning system.

    Like I said, whoever did not support q2 will never receive my vote.

  • A Gopher
    Nov 11, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    How’d that work out for you yah woke joke. Don Samuels, a black former city council member, said that white liberals should vote with us, not for us. Most of us heeded his call, whilst you, a hypocritical, nimby, closet racist, went against the majority of black people’s wishes and still got moped the “F” out. You lost by 12 points in a liberal city! That’s like losing a hockey game by 12 goals, not even remotely competitive. Go do your laundry, ’cause your crotch be stankin’!

  • A Gopher
    Nov 11, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    You lost by 12 points in a liberal city! That’s like losing a hockey game by 12 goals, not even remotely competitive.

  • Michelle Vietor
    Nov 8, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    It’s true because I decide who I vote for. And I will not vote for anyone who does not support replacing our failure of a police department.

  • Charisse Courteau
    Oct 5, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    I was a teacher for 16 years and a proud union member. The federal government created No Child Left behind Act to help teachers become accountable, flexible funds, increase research base education, and create parent options. The federal government never gave up on teachers or districts and I feel like we should not give up on police officers and their chiefs. Things need to change in protecting the citizens of Minneapolis…we need to do something!!! We can’t give up on police and this means that we cannot abolish the police and chiefs. Police officers and chiefs need to be accountable, funds need to be flexible and putting the money where are mouths are, we need to increase research base education for our police officers (they deserve nothing less). I am voting no in this moment.

  • thegapman
    Oct 4, 2021 at 12:15 am

    Part of any successful organization would be an ability to lead. The city council as with most Democrats don’t know how to lead people only scapegoat with accusations that were never true. Smarter Democrats know they don’t have a city council capable of leadership in any new organization they create. But these same Democrats helped create this mess by pandering to people with false beliefs and allowed for the scapegoating of our great men and women from all races that put their very lives on the line each and every day. Who in their right mind would ever police working for them? It is a public disaster in the making and anyone with a brain knows it.

  • A Gopher
    Sep 30, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Takes one to know one!

  • A Gopher
    Sep 30, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    In what conceivable way is that remotely true?

  • Michelle Vietor
    Sep 29, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    They won’t because you’re a psycho.

  • Michelle Vietor
    Sep 29, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    My message to everyone running for ANY position local to me: A vote YES for question 2 is a vote for you. And vice versa.

  • Nope
    Sep 25, 2021 at 9:22 am

    The poll question says the new model “could include police officers if necessary.” This question also implies that it “could not.” Dangerous proposition.

  • A Gopher
    Sep 21, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Nice try you Chinese bot, trying to ruin our society by promoting unsafe policies. I’m at Moos tower around 8:00 am everyday, if you want to talk in person, which you won’t because… bot or troll.

  • Big Jim 288
    Sep 16, 2021 at 11:10 am

    You are 100% correct. It is nothing more than a power grab by an incredibly incompetent and highly political City Council

  • Crazyeyes
    Sep 15, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    I don’t think you understand anything about the discussion. No one is arguing that simply reducing the numbers of law enforcement officers will lead to less crime. You mentioned a fallacy while committing a straw man fallacy. Also broken window policing has long been debunked. It does not reduce crime. Are you trying to troll people with you comment? Am I talking to a bot account? Your name here implies that you attended the U but I seriously doubt you ever did.

  • A Gopher
    Sep 14, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Shame also on the wokeist students who have lead this charge. Safe-U alerts can not even have detailed descriptions because the black students unions says it is racist to have facts about the people attacking our community!

  • Rael Imperial AK
    Sep 14, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Rewarding opportunistic criminals with less enforcement is going to increase crime and increase criminals and increase violence.
    This is common sense.
    This is going to end badly for us all.

  • Enn Arre
    Sep 13, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    Maybe one of the schools investigative reporters could actually look into all the lives saved in MPLS over this past year. Do you think we would ever see a story highlighting the good?! The force is down over 100 officers so how many lives are being lost because of the unfilled positions that keep officers too busy to get to every call in a timely manner!

  • Enn Arre
    Sep 13, 2021 at 8:58 pm


  • brn
    Sep 13, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Put police out of work by creating a society that doesn’t need them

    I’ve often said make them like the Maytag repairman, then even I will support defunding. Defunding while they are overwhelmed is a recipe for disaster.

  • Emilie Quast
    Sep 13, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    Please just tell me you’re going to show up at the polls and vote your conscience! I’m not at all comfortable that the people who proposed this have NOT got a plan in place to ensure safety (ours and theirs) if they get their “yes” votes during the transition time (assuming they have a plan to transition to) nor even a model to follow or staff lined up to fill the roster. Enn Arre knows *1* officer who saved six people in just the last year. ONE Officer. And we have how many other officers on the force?

  • brn
    Sep 13, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Aside from the desire to have the PD report to the council, what stops the implementation of the desired approaches in the current structure? This comes off as a power grab by a City Council that many have learned to distrust.

  • Enn Arre
    Sep 13, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    We cannot just take police away and expect a miracle change in societal behavior…..but we certainly can reduce the need for police if all the other aspects I mention above are fully funded and fully effective. Put police out of work by creating a society that doesn’t need them….in the mean time quit punishing them for putting their lives on the line for us!

    I know one police officer that has put their life on the line and saved 6 lives of citizens over the past year…yeah NONE of that EVERY made it on the news. One officer…6 saved lives (gunshot victims, car accidents, drug overdoses and suicide attempts) Those 6 people’s lives would have ended if not for that officer doing their duty….how many total over the last year with all the police…we will never know because it’s not news worthy enough! Isn’t one life saved enough to say that police are necessary, that they make a difference? Who exactly is going to jump into the river after a suicide jumper just moments after the call into 911 by a witness?? Yep we need them on the street ready to respond by putting themselves in danger like they already do!

  • Enn Arre
    Sep 13, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Police were never meant to be social workers, to provide public housing options, to provide mental health care, to provide free food, they are meant to keep people safe from other peoples actions that are harmful and dangerous. Actions like like domestic disputes over whatever, living in cars or tents along the highway, lack of medical/ mental health care options, providing food shelves ALL belongs on others shoulders and not the police and they should NOT be punished for others failings.

    Remember the police are also not responsible for the criminal justice court system which comes after the arrest. It’s about time those “duties” are placed in the hands of those who apparently have not been doing their jobs and the police have been dealing with the fall out for years!

    Also, the voting should extend to the surrounding communities as they already have to deal with the fallout of events in MPLS and to the people who work in MPLS proper. I have to park my car, walk the streets and work in MPLS and I would appreciate a say in what happens in a place where I spend a lot of my time!

  • John Karnes
    Sep 13, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    As an out of State parent of a student at the University of Minnesota it is very troubling to see the very large uptick of crime in and just outside of the campus not to mention those poor people living with lawlessness every night in around the no go zone. These are not petty crimes but rather hold ups at gunpoint, Pistol whipping innocent victims whilst they steal their phones and wallets, victims being told they are “going to die” being held up at gunpoint, carjackings resulting in high speed chases, gang shootings where innocent victims have been and could continue to be caught in the crossfire. I really fear for my Daughters safety and for the people that have suffered the most while we demonize the police. The most vulnerable among you in poor parts of town, where are their voices being heard? Shame on the Governor, the Mayor, The clueless City Council members and for that matter any citizen who votes “yes” for this ridiculous change. Please be careful what you wish for! People need leadership right now more than ever in your beautiful city, I pray you lead.

  • brn
    Sep 13, 2021 at 10:12 am

    Regardless of the intent, the verbiage needs to change. The current wording does allow for the elimination of sworn officers.

  • Abdi483
    Sep 13, 2021 at 8:30 am

    The solution is more police and the courts enforcing laws. I trust the chief of police, I do not trust city council, they should all loose their jobs. There is no reason the city cannot hire violence intervention and mental health people right now. This is a power grab by city council and nothing more.

  • A Gopher
    Sep 13, 2021 at 8:28 am

    The fact that the “defunders” think any reduction in cops will lead to less crime is a fallacy. If we gave more cops proper training and wide leeway to enforce the law there would be a dramatic decrease in crime. Think back to five years ago before the current city council took office. We had enforcement of nuisance laws, you couldn’t just loiter or squat in public areas. The current city council took all that away and now seemingly every bridge, every public area has a bunch of squatters up to no good. Besides that, a whole bunch of young folks are now habilitated to a life of crime. Ride the light rail, look at a the folks in the back smoking even when it’s nice outside. They’re behaving this way because they like it and nothing ever happens to them because cops can only give a verbal warning. We’ve tried the carrot, now let’s try the stick before we say it won’t work.