MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Charter Commission on Wednesday rejected sending voters a referendum on eliminating a minimum staffing requirement in the city police department.
The 15-member commission voted 8-6 against putting the proposal on the November ballot, with one member absent. The proposal was an alternative to a more aggressive change in the city charter that would lead to dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Commissioner Greg Abbott said removing the 60-year-old provision in the charter that requires a minimum police force based on Minneapolis' population would be a first step toward police reform and would remove the charter as a barrier.
"It removes a mistake," said Abbott, who voted for putting the amendment on the ballot.
But opponents said the commission was moving too fast on the recently proposed amendment and that it could wait until 2021. They also argued that some neighborhoods in Minneapolis were seeing a spike in crime and that the city needs a strong police force.
Commissioner Dan Cohen said he believes if Minneapolis voters approved either amendment, the result would be "a giant self-inflicted wound."
"Crime would soar. Property values on our homes would fall. Residents both Black and white would flee the city. Businesses would close, and leave," Cohen said. "All to punish the many, the decent cops, for the horrific actions of the few in taking the life of George Floyd."
Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd's death sparked protests around the world.
The commission did not take up the proposal by the Minneapolis City Council to abolish the Police Department and replace it with a new agency, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. Last month the City Council unanimously advanced the proposal to change the city's charter, or constitution. Voters would need to approve the amendment.
The charter commission meets again on Aug. 5.