Minneapolis voters have a choice this fall. We can maintain the broken status quo of policing, or move forward on the path to a holistic public safety system.
I've listened to Minneapolis residents. I've heard fear from a woman who lives alone and had someone try to break into her home while she was there. She's grateful police showed up quickly.
I've heard anger from a mom whose teenage daughter was catcalled by police.
I've felt the anguish of a community grappling with babies being shot and killed.
Amid the ache for real community safety, I've heard a consistent refrain: "I just want to be able to call for help in an emergency and not fear who shows up."
The status quo is not a path to a safer Minneapolis. We do not have to choose between justice and safety.
When I am elected mayor, I will retain our police force inside the Department of Public Safety that will be created by City Question 2. I will fund police at current staffing levels for at least two years as we invest and build trust in a whole-systems approach to crime prevention and public safety.
Let's look at the facts. City Question 2 does not abolish police or remove the chief of police. Rather, it would allow the mayor and City Council to build a Department of Public Safety that puts police, fire, violence prevention and emergency management under a unified structure dedicated to a safe Minneapolis. The chief of police will continue to serve as head of police, and I would appoint a civilian commission to head the department overall.
As long as I am mayor, police officers will be an integral part of public safety in Minneapolis. Importantly, this amendment will help with two key parts of making policing work better. We can ask officers to do less, enabling them to focus on violent crime. We can also rebuild trust — not through a PR campaign, but through radical transparency and real accountability.
Yet we can't rely on police alone to ensure safety. This charter amendment gives us more tools to make real reform and better integrate public safety approaches, including dramatic increases in crime prevention and violence interruption.
Good public policy takes time. Our process will be data-informed and methodical. I am committed to full transparency and ample input.
City Question 2 also removes the outdated requirement to fund a mandatory minimum of police officers per resident. This arbitrary requirement was pushed by the Police Federation decades ago to keep officers in jobs — even ones that shouldn't be officers. We as taxpayers keep paying for this police-centric approach, increasingly through multimillion-dollar payouts for excessive use of force.
This current mandate means an outsized portion of the city's budget must be spent on policing alone, which keeps us from investing significantly in strategies that research clearly shows are successful in preventing crime — things like investing in young men, housing access and mental-health support.
Studies show that simply increasing the number of officers doesn't reduce crime. History in our own city shows that even when we have the mandated number of officers per resident, it does not keep crime from rising or automatically provide us with needed safety.
Most large cities, including St. Paul, don't have this funding restriction — and many have lower rates of violent and property crime than Minneapolis.
The deep deficiencies of the police-only approach under Mayor Jacob Frey make the need to pass the charter amendment clear. He has failed to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable or demonstrate a path forward. We have a structural problem that requires structural reform. Frey is standing in the way. His claim that he's for reform fails the smell test when he and the special interests that support him are fighting so hard to retain the status quo.
Our city is in crisis. The murder of George Floyd by police catalyzed a global cry for justice. The outburst of gun violence has shocked the conscience of all of us.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to build a public safety system that actually works. I have a vision and plan. See it at kateformpls.org/publicsafety.
This is our call to action. We need a Department of Public Safety, and we need a mayor who will lead.
Together we can build a public safety system — and a city — rooted in justice over fear.
Kate Knuth is a candidate for mayor of Minneapolis. She is a former state representative and small-business owner.