Yes 4 Minneapolis proposal

This fall there will be a public safety charter amendment on the ballot for voters to consider, and I will respect whatever voters decide. It's also important to share my perspective with constituents after almost eight years in office, where I have worked in good faith with two mayors and two chiefs to try and improve outcomes. From this first-hand experience, it is clear to me that the status quo configuration is not working well enough, despite record investments and many reform efforts. I do not fault the long line of mayors and chiefs who have been unable to resolve longstanding issues; instead, I have come to the conclusion that structural barriers have held back progress. That is why I support this amendment and encourage you to consider supporting it as well.

By voting yes, four important things will happen:

  • Better collaboration and a more holistic approach. Police will be moved from a standalone department into a division of a larger Department of Public Safety that takes a public health approach to the work. I believe this will lead to more partnership and collaboration between police and non-police functions within the City enterprise.

  • More democratic and transparent decision-making. Policymaking will immediately be moved into the same established public process that exists for all the other departments (a structure shared between the Mayor and Council). That means there will be public notices, presentations, hearings, discussions, and votes. It also means more checks and balances. This will improve transparency, offer more opportunity for public engagement, bring a greater diversity of perspectives to the table, and result in more developed and refined policies.

  • Leadership with greater organizational management focus. Police chiefs often have a very similar path: promoted up through the ranks within the department. By having an appointed commissioner over the new Department of Public Safety, it opens the door for additional leaders with experience successfully running large organizations, implementing systems change, and making performance improvements. This will help provide more support for the chief in realizing systems change, and will free up more time for them to focus on law enforcement.

  • Flexibility to adjust resources as results improve. Transforming our public safety system means using more alternative responses where appropriate, as well as increasing investments in crime prevention and addressing root causes. As these strategies over time reduce the volume of incidents where armed personnel are needed, job type ratios will gradually shift. By not having arbitrary minimum staffing levels tied to any individual role, it offers more long-term flexibility to best meet the needs of residents and maximize investments in safety strategies over the long-term.

Addressing common responses by opponents:

“You can’t have 14 bosses” They won’t. For other departments there are not 14 bosses but instead one process for policy decisions between the Council (as a body) and the Mayor. This shared process by and large produces great results with the other city departments.

“The Council is going to be supervising the police now?” No. The daily operational decisions, such as where squads are assigned, will continue to be made by department leadership.

“Can’t we just keep trying to reform?” There have been decades of attempts by mayors and chiefs to reform MPD as an organization, yet here we are. We cannot afford to keep trying the same approach over and over again expecting different results.

“This will abolish the police.” No, it won’t. Not only is there broad agreement among policymakers that we need police as part of our public safety system, but there are state laws requiring police officers to respond to many calls.

“This will eliminate the police chief.” No, it wont. The police chief will continue to oversee the police functions for the City, just as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a chief over their patrol division.

“But some council members want to defund the police...” The only year-to-year tool currently available to council members who don’t believe MPD is performing well enough, and who don’t feel they are seeing results from good faith efforts to collaborate, is to cut MPD’s budget. By giving policymakers more constructive tools, there will be more constructive outcomes.

“We can’t have confusion in an emergency.” There won’t be. The Mayor will retain full authority to call a state of emergency at any time, and in doing so, take full control of every department. That is what our current Mayor did during the uprising and civil unrest in 2020 and can do again.

As you consider this, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please contact me for more.