Where is violent crime on the rise in Minneapolis?

I get a lot of crime notifications on my phone (2020 was the wrong year to install the Citizen app). I think it’s warping my perception of crime in my neighborhood. I’m very good at ignoring everything my phone sends at me. Don’t expect me to answer your emails or text messages. But I will read all the crime notifications. If a man is stabbing the McDonald’s drive thru window with a knife, or a car is overturned on Lyndale Avenue, I’m very interested to know.

Continue reading “Where is violent crime on the rise in Minneapolis?”

Minneapolis Charter Commission acting to stall City Council’s public safety priorities

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Charter Commission voted 8-6 to reject a ballot question that would have let voters decide whether to remove minimum police staffing requirements from the city charter. The vote against this scaled back compromise — which was put forward by Commissioner Giraud-Isaacson — suggests the Commission will likely reject (by delay tactic at their meeting next Wednesday) a ballot question advanced by the City Council. That proposal would allow voters to remove the Minneapolis Police Department as a required charter department and replace it with a new department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.

(Worth pointing out that MPD could go on existing for an indefinite period of time even if not explicitly required by city charter. Both of the charter amendments simply give the Council varying degrees of flexibility to withdraw funding from MPD in order to fund public safety alternatives.)

Continue reading “Minneapolis Charter Commission acting to stall City Council’s public safety priorities”

Charter Commission LIVE Spreadsheet

Just like last week, we’re covering today’s Charter Commission public hearing using the purest form of journalism ever invented — the live spreadsheet.

The previous two hearings were to solicit comment on the City Council’s version of the public safety charter amendment. Today’s hearing is about the Charter Commission’s significantly scaled back alternative proposal. Read about the differences here.

Continue reading “Charter Commission LIVE Spreadsheet”

Charter Commission Considers Competing Police Ballot Questions

The Minneapolis Charter Commission is considering an alternative amendment to the city charter regarding police and public safety. This means voters could be faced with competing ballot questions in November.

The newest proposal would eliminate a minimum staffing requirement for the Minneapolis Police Department — same as the City Council proposal. But it would leave in place language specifying how that department is embedded within city government. It would also preserve language giving the Mayor “complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command” of MPD.

The City Council’s original proposal would do more than simply eliminate the minimum police staffing requirement enacted in 1961. It creates a new department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. It gives the council the option to create a law enforcement division within that new department. Council members have previously stressed how important it is for the new department’s law enforcement capacity to take a subordinate role to the “holistic” public safety approach of the new department.

Continue reading “Charter Commission Considers Competing Police Ballot Questions”

Delay tactics from Charter Commission would deny urgent citywide conversation

[Would you like to send a message to the Charter Commission? Sign up to deliver your words over the phone at two public hearings to be held on July 15 and 21.]

Dear Members of the Charter Commission:

It’s clear that some of you have strong opinions on this public safety charter amendment. I won’t try to change your mind about the specifics of this proposal. It’s okay to disagree. I accept there’s a diversity of opinion from across the city–if not on this commission. Your role, if you think this shouldn’t be on the ballot, is to say so. Say no.

Continue reading “Delay tactics from Charter Commission would deny urgent citywide conversation”

A Brief History of Police Politics in the Minneapolis City Charter (1959-1961)

On July 8, 2020, the Minneapolis Charter Commission will hear from city council members and the mayor about a proposed change to the city charter related to the police department. Broadly speaking, this charter amendment would create a new department (Community Safety and Violence Prevention) to replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and give the city council oversight of this new department. The mayor currently has complete authority over MPD.

On July 15, 2020, the Charter Commission will hold a public hearing on the amendment. After that, likely at a later meeting, they will take one of four actions: yes, no, provide a substitute amendment, or delay action. The Charter Commission is essentially offering a recommendation, which the city council can accept or reject. But if the commission delays their action past August 5 (which they have the authority to do), it becomes impossible for this amendment to be put to voters in November.

One question keeps popping up: why does this even need to go to the voters? The Minneapolis City Council has publicly resolved to take action and has a veto-proof majority, so what’s the issue? One key obstacle to meaningful change involves language in the city charter that requires a police department be staffed at a minimum level:

Continue reading “A Brief History of Police Politics in the Minneapolis City Charter (1959-1961)”

Minneapolis police proposal would be kept off November ballot if Charter Commission fails to act by August 5

The Minneapolis Charter Commission met yesterday to set a schedule of meetings to consider a proposal put forward by the City Council to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. Next Wednesday, they’ll hear from members of the City Council and Mayor Frey — who opposes the change. A public hearing is set for Wednesday, July 15.

Continue reading “Minneapolis police proposal would be kept off November ballot if Charter Commission fails to act by August 5”

Editorial Board to Mayor Frey: Stop Scaring Our Moms

Last night, Mayor Jacob Frey was a guest on my mom’s second favorite MSNBC program. He suggested to a national cable audience of increasingly scared moms that our City Council is interested in “abolishing all law enforcement.” This echoes comments he made last Friday about a “wholesale elimination of a police response to violent crime.” It’s important to note that if you listen to members of the City Council, “abolishing all law enforcement” isn’t on anyone’s agenda.

Continue reading “Editorial Board to Mayor Frey: Stop Scaring Our Moms”

Mayor Frey and City Council hold dueling press conferences on police charter amendment

Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to send a public safety charter amendment forward to the Charter Commission. If ultimately placed on this year’s ballot and approved by voters, the charter change would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new department called Community Safety and Violence Prevention. This new department would have a public health orientation and be focused on violence prevention. It would be led not by a police chief, but by someone with public health or restorative justice experience. Within the new department there would be a division of law enforcement staffed with licensed police officers.

Another way the proposal would change the city’s system of public safety would be who has authority over the new department. Currently the Mayor is given exclusive authority over MPD. If approved by voters, the charter change would grant policy-making authority over the new department to the City Council.

Mayor Frey, who opposes the change, and the City Council held separate press conferences on Friday. Here are some of Frey’s critiques and the response from members of the City Council (mostly Jeremiah Ellison, who has articulated the issues most clearly and directly).

Continue reading “Mayor Frey and City Council hold dueling press conferences on police charter amendment”

Some Minneapolis City Council Members Double Down on Call to Replace a Failing System (That is Very Much Still in Effect as I Write This Headline)

This year has been a lot to handle. It’s the fourth year of a bumbling fascist as US President; a pandemic has killed 124,000 Americans and counting; there’s deepening economic misery for millions. And our city is at the epicenter of a global protest movement, kicked off by a Minneapolis cop casually pressing the life out of a man, while three other officers looked on and did nothing for nearly eight minutes.

You’ve got your pick of social, economic, and historical forces to explain how we got to this specific moment, with things spinning out of control. Choose one. Choose a little of each. In the midst of cascading disasters, it’s easy to lose track of it all. But we shouldn’t forget George Floyd, a black man who should still be alive. And we shouldn’t forget that the men responsible for taking his life were employees of the City of Minneapolis, acting ostensibly on our behalf.

Continue reading “Some Minneapolis City Council Members Double Down on Call to Replace a Failing System (That is Very Much Still in Effect as I Write This Headline)”