The Minneapolis Charter Commission on Monday advanced its own proposal for changing the city’s Police Department: eliminating the minimum staffing requirement, but otherwise leaving the charter intact.
The move sets the stage for competing ballot questions in November, as the city debates how to remake policing in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death.
The city charter, which serves as its constitution, currently says the city must maintain a police department and the council must “fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident.”
During a special meeting Monday afternoon, Commissioner Al Giraud-Isaacson unveiled a proposal that would delete that minimum funding language from the charter.
“The charter is not a place, in my opinion, for deciding how large city departments should be,” Giraud-Isaacson said.
The proposal would still keep the requirement to have a police department, but would give the mayor and City Council wider latitude in determining its size, he said.
The court-appointed commission voted 14-1 to set a public hearing to collect feedback on the measure. The hearing will begin at 5 p.m. Monday.
The only person who voted against that effort was Commissioner Dan Cohen, who said he thought the Charter Commission has a “legal and a moral obligation to uphold the strong Minneapolis police force.”
The commission could decide unilaterally to send the measure to voters. The City Council and mayor would decide how the question appears on the ballot, but they cannot change the amendment itself.
The commission faces an Aug. 21 deadline for adding measures to the Nov. 3 ballot.
The commission is also reviewing a proposal introduced by five City Council members. The proposal would remove the requirement to have a police department and replace it with a community safety department — which may or may not include licensed police officers. Those staffing decisions would be made by the mayor and council in separate processes.
The commission could issue a recommendation on whether that proposal should head to the ballot, or offer its own substitute proposal. The City Council would not be required to follow the commission’s recommendation.
The commission could also decide to take an additional 90 days to review the measure, preventing it from heading to the ballot this year. A public hearing on the council’s proposal is set to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Depending on the actions of the commission and City Council, both proposals could end up on the November ballot.