- Minneapolis voters will weigh in on policing and public safety with Ballot Question 2.
- If passed, the city government would be directed to form a new Department of Public Safety.
- Polls in Minneapolis close at 8 pm local time and 9 pm ET.
Minneapolis voters are directly weighing on making big changes to policing and public safety in their city on Tuesday with Ballot Question 2.
The question comes to the voters nearly a year and a half after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin sparked worldwide protests over police brutality and calls for structurally reforming police in Minneapolis and other cities.
If the ballot question receives majority support, the mayor and City Council will be directed to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that "employs a comprehensive public health approach" to public safety. That department could - but doesn't have to - include police officers at all.
The question has divided Minnesota's top political leaders and policing reform activists within the community. Gov. Tim Walz, US Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Mayor Jacob Frey, who is also seeking reelection on Tuesday, all oppose the amendment.
Frey came into office pledging to make big changes to policing in Minneapolis after the high-profile 2017 shooting of Justine Damond by a Minneapolis police officer, who was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in her death.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, prominent progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, and a few of Frey's challengers for the mayor's office support the measure, in addition to several civil rights groups.
But there's still a lot up in the air and many yet-to-be answered questions about how the directives in Question 2 would be actually implemented in practice. Minneapolis is also facing a spike in violent crime, and has seen 79 homicides as of Nov. 2 - far above the 48 homicides reported in all of 2019.
The first ballot question, if passed, would move Minneapolis' entire structure of city government to a "strong-mayor" system that would give the mayor's office power over all city departments, including the Police Department. That system would make it impossible for the City Council to create and oversee the new Department of Public Safety, as laid out in the text of Question 2.
The text Question 2 itself:
"Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?"