Opinion editor's note: The following article was submitted on behalf of seven DFL members of the Minnesota Legislature who represent parts of Minneapolis. Their names are listed below.
As residents and elected officials, we know that Minneapolis deserves public safety that is both effective and accountable. We have the honor of representing Minneapolis residents at the Legislature from every corner of the city, and from every race, income and background. While our own experiences are varied, we are unified in our support for City Question 2 to expand public safety. We believe in the power of our democracy to create structural change and believe that creating a Department of Public Safety, called for by a petition signed by 22,000 Minneapolis residents, is the best path forward to address both police violence and community violence.
For too long, we've borne witness to a Minneapolis Police Department that brutalizes Black and brown men, and is under investigation by both the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the federal Department of Justice. Most recently, we have seen body camera footage of Minneapolis police officers "hunting" residents they were sworn to protect in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.
There is something deeply wrong with our system of public safety in Minneapolis. After decades of policy reforms made in good faith by different mayors and police chiefs, we still do not have the levels of safety, effectiveness or accountability residents deserve.
At the Legislature, meaningful efforts at police accountability led by members of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus after an officer's murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and an officer's fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center have been continuously blocked by Republicans. In the Senate, the GOP majority blocked legislation that would have disallowed known members of white supremacist groups from serving in law enforcement. But, in Minneapolis, residents are demanding change.
From our perspective as community leaders, elected officials, parents, organizers and people who love our city, we have done our research on this issue and see the choice clearly: Either we can maintain the status quo, or we can make practical steps to change it. City Question 2 allows us to make those changes, expanding tools we have for public safety.
City Question 2 is the only plan that exists to support law enforcement working alongside trained professionals like mental-health responders, substance-abuse experts and violence-prevention specialists. Creating a Department of Public Safety, with a similar structure to that of the state's department, will take time. We're voting yes on City Question 2 because structural change cannot wait longer.
Minneapolis law requires the city to begin enacting changes within 30 days of a charter amendment passing. While some actions, like the appointment of an interim Department of Public Safety commissioner, must happen within 30 days after the election, little will change overnight. Contrary to what opponents of City Question 2 are saying, the Minneapolis Police Department will still exist as a city department. There will still be police officers, and the Police Department would exist outside of the city charter. If the amendment passes, local elected officials will be authorized to start work with the city and residents on an ordinance that outlines the Department of Public Safety that includes licensed law enforcement officers required by state law.
The public safety charter amendment will open Minneapolis up to new possibilities for public safety that are more effective than the outdated, one-size-fits-all model that has continued to fail our Black, brown and low-income residents. Together, we can change the status quo and create a city that is safe for all of us. Join us in voting yes on City Question 2.
This article was submitted by state Rep. Sydney Jordan, District 60A; state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, District 63; state Sen. Omar Fateh, District 62; state Rep. Jim Davnie, District 63A; state Rep. Mohamud Noor, District 60B; state Rep. Esther Agbaje, District 59B, and state Rep. Fue Lee, District 59A.