After a legal challenge, a ballot question on Minneapolis’ November election ballot has been struck down in court.
“Tuesday morning, a Hennepin County judge tossed the initially approved language by the Minneapolis City Council to be on the November ballot regarding the public safety charter amendment,” KTSP said.
The language is part of a ballot measure that would significantly change the role of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).
The new ballot language, which is final, reads as follows:
“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?”
Voters will choose “Yes” or “No” in response.
The old language, which District Court Judge Jamie L. Anderson called “vague” and “ambiguous,” read as follows:
“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?”
There is also an explainer as part of this ballot question.
The explainer says:
“This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum finding requirement would be eliminated.”
This amendment would create a new Department of Public Safety, which would:
1. Combine public safety functions of the City of Minneapolis into a comprehensive public health approach to safety, with the specific public safety functions to be determined.
2. Include licensed peace officers (police officers) if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety.
3. Be led by a Commissioner of Public Safety. The appointment process for the Commissioner would include a Mayor nomination and a City Council appointment. The Mayor would not have complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Department of Public Safety.
This amendment would also do the following:
1. Remove from the Charter a Police Department, which includes the removal of its Police Chief, and the removal of the Mayor’s complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the Police Department.
2. Remove the City Council requirement to fund a police force of at least 1.7 employees per 1,000 residents.
3. Remove City Council authorization to impose additional taxation on taxable property in the City of Minneapolis of up to 0.3 percent of its value annually to fund the compensation of employees of the police force.
Thanks to the lawsuit and the subsequent decision to change the language, the explainer has become much more vague.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Minnesota Sun and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Minneapolis Police Department” by Tony Webster CC BY 2.0.