(The Center Square) – The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution intending to disband their police department and create a new model of public safety in response to the death of George Floyd.
The resolution states the Council will start a year-long process of research and community engagement to discover a replacement.
City Council President Lisa Bender said that the resolution “advances our shared commitment to transformative change in how Minneapolis approaches public safety so that every member of our community can be truly safe.
“As we respond to demands for immediate action to reduce police violence and support community safety, we will invite our community to help shape long-term transformative change, centering the voices of those most impacted by community violence and police violence,” Bender said in a statement.
The Minneapolis 2020 budget allocated $193 million to its police department, which the resolution said was more than double the amount allocated for affordable housing and violence prevention.
The city’s total adopted budget was about $1.5 billion.
The council may place a charter referendum on the November 2020 ballot to replace the department, because Minneapolis’ current charter requires funding a minimum police force of 0.0017 employees per resident, or roughly 744 employees.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has opposed dismantling the police department and instead wants to reform the department, as does Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
The Council cited rising settlement costs as another justification for the change.
Minneapolis has incurred more than $24 million in legal settlements since 2017, the resolution said.
That’s about equal to the settlement amounts paid between 2003 and 2017, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Replacing the police department has divided some community representatives.
“You can’t really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild, and so this is our opportunity,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, told CNN on Saturday.
But business owners worry a “police-free” future could lead to similar outcomes as the riots that damaged over 1,500 buildings in the Twin Cities.
Jonathan Weinhagen, president & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, told the Star Tribune he wanted reform.
“We stand with Chief Arradondo and his efforts to hold officers accountable and dramatically overhaul policing in Minneapolis,” Weinhagen said in a statement. “Businesses are concerned about calls for abolishing or eliminating the police department. We believe it is important to maintain and improve public safety. And the necessary changes for the MPD will take consensus from the community and continual work from leaders across Minneapolis.”
The council created a Future of Community Safety Work Group tasked to report preliminary recommendations by July 24 to engage community stakeholders and plan for its budget.
“Together, we will identify what safety looks like for everyone,” the resolution said.