Violent crime in Minneapolis surged to near-record heights last year after the death of George Floyd, and the Police Department’s data for so far in 2021 shows that there’s been little drop-off.
Murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults are all running even with last year or roughly close to it, while rapes seem down slightly, at this point of the year.
So, to a majority of the City Council, it seemed like a good time to defund the police.
According to local media, the council voted 9-4 to overturn Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of a ballot initiative that would eliminate the city police department.
Minneapolis media reported that the referendum at issue says:
“Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to strike and replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety which could include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary, with administrative authority to be consistent with other city departments to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety?”
According to a draft charter revision, if the referendum prevails, the new public safety department would be “responsible for integrating its public safety functions into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, including licensed peace officers if necessary.”
Frey, who is no right-winger by any stretch, denounced the vote.
“We have an obligation to voters to tell them their consequences of their vote is,” Frey said. “It would remove the position of chief of police. It would get rid of the requirement to fund police and finally, it would change the reporting structure so that the head of public safety would have to report to 14 different people, the mayor and city council.”
Minneapolis was already struggling to recruit cops in the wake of Floyd’s death and riots, and the subsequent murder conviction of police Officer Derek Chauvin for his death.
Two months ago, PBS reported that the department was down more than 200 officers from its authorized strength of nearly 900 cops. And that was four months after the city committed to beefing up spending on recruitment by $6.4 million.
Surely, telling would-be cops they’ll now become “public health” workers will help fill that void.
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