Proposal may allow voters to create a new Department of Public Safety
In mid-March the Minneapolis City Council voted to send the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment, authored by Council Members Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder, to the Minneapolis Charter Commission for a mandatory review in order to allow voters to improve our public safety system this November. That vote marks the next step in the City’s normal process, as required by state statute, to amend the City Charter to create a new Department of Public Safety.
“The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment is built on the shared vision of a public safety system that provides services and responses as diverse as our constituents and their needs and keeps everyone in our city safe,” said Council Member Phillipe Cunningham. “This amendment reflects wide-ranging feedback from community members citywide over the past year.”
The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment would create a holistic approach to public safety that keeps everyone in Minneapolis safe by:
• Establishing in the City Charter a new Department of Public Safety to integrate and oversee a continuum of public safety efforts that prevent, intervene in, and reduce crime and violence to create safer communities for everyone in Minneapolis.
• Removing the Minneapolis Police Department as a charter department, and establishing in its place a Division of Law Enforcement within the Department of Public Safety made up of sworn peace officers responsible for the core functions of law enforcement.
• Removing language in the current charter that arbitrarily mandates a minimum number of Police employees. It would give Minneapolis the same freedom other Minnesota cities have to decide how to best meet our urgent needs of preventing, reducing and responding to crime.
• Placing the Department of Public Safety under the purview of both the City Council and the Mayor, in line with other City departments. The current City Charter stipulates that the Minneapolis Police Department reports exclusively to the Mayor, creating confusion in the community and reducing transparency and oversight.
The Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment is one piece of the City Council’s commitment to transform and broaden the public safety system in Minneapolis to keep everyone in the city safe. This comes after the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution in June 2020 committing to transform public safety in Minneapolis. Since then, the City Council has invested in specialized mental health crisis response, expanded the Office of Violence Prevention, and shifted non-emergency calls to qualified City departments. The resolution committed the City to seek input from community members. A City-led process is ongoing to gather feedback from community members on how to build a better public safety system. In addition, using our democratic process to allow Minneapolis voters to decide on the future of our public safety system is a direct and transparent way for residents to be heard.
Under state law, the Charter Commission has up to 150 days to review the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment and make a non-binding recommendation as to whether the City Council should move forward, reject the proposal, or replace it with an alternative. A Charter Commission recommendation is expected no later than the end of July, in time for the City Council to add the amendment to the November ballot.
Beyond the legally required Charter Commission process, the authors of the Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment will begin working on an ordinance to clarify the functions, structure, leadership, operations and other details of the new Department of Public Safety. Ordinance development will be led by City staff and co-created through a community engagement process.
Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment ordinance text
Transforming Public Safety Charter Amendment FAQ