A police accountability measure that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a newly created Department of Public Safety was defeated on Tuesday by voters in the city where George Floyd was killed by a police officer in May 2020. “People are torn,” says Northeastern’s Jack McDevitt, professor of the practice in criminology and criminal justice. “People absolutely feel that policing has to change and that reform is important, but it’s often posed in juxtaposition of defund the police or support the police,” he adds.
Specifically, Minneapolis voters were asked if they would support an amendment to the city’s charter that would dismantle the Police Department in the charter, creating instead a new Department of Public Safety. It would take a “public health approach to safety,” according to the amendment. That agency would include “licensed police officers if necessary.”
Residents rejected the measure 56% to 43%. It was a defeat for Yes4Minneapolis, the measure’s chief backer, which describes itself as a “Black-led, multiracial campaign.” Members vowed to keep fighting. “We changed the conversation about what public safety should look like,” the group tweeted.