Yes 4 Minneapolis proposal

This fall there will be a public safety charter amendment on the ballot for voters to consider. I support this amendment and encourage voters to support it as well. It's clear to me that the status quo configuration is not working well enough, despite record investments in MPD in recent years and many good faith attempts at reform.

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. It also means that officers will be one part of, rather than the center of, our public safety system (an important shift in mentality for how we approach improving community safety).

  • 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 leaders with a fresh set of eyes and more robust experience successfully running large organizations, implementing systems change, and making performance improvements. This will help provide more support for whomever is 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. Transitioning 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 reduce the volume of incidents where officers are needed, we will naturally not need as many officers. Striking the arbitrary minimum staffing level offers flexibility over time to rebalance the workforce to best meet the needs of residents and maximize investments in safety strategies.

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 and fix problems, yet here we are. We cannot afford to keep trying the same failed approach over and over again.

“This will abolish the police.” No, it won’t.

“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. If you don’t want budget cuts being the focus, then give policymakers more constructive tools.

“We need a highly-detailed org chart for a new department first.” Not really. Until further organizational improvements are implemented by department leadership and elected officials, functions such as police will continue to operate as they do today (aside from realizing the several benefits I noted above).

“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.