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Minneapolis Ballot Guide: Where Mpls. City Council Members Stand On Public Safety – WCCO

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With Minneapolis city elections approaching, public safety is the topic on most everyone’s mind.

On Nov. 2, the city’s voters will decide whether to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety via a ballot question.

Also on the ballot: All 13 city council seats. WCCO reached out to each incumbent city councilmember to see where they stand on public safety reform.

(Note: Alondra Cano (Ward 9) and President Lisa Bender (Ward 10) are not running for re-election.)

RESOURCES: 

Ward 1: Kevin Reich

Reich did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment, but this is his stated position on public safety, from his campaign website:

I support a truly holistic approach to public safety that will both keep Minneapolis safe and structurally reforms the current police department.

I believe that public safety should not end with armed officers. I have continuously supported alternatives to traditional policing. I have supported funding violence prevention programs as well as incorporating mental health professionals and social workers into our public safety system. I believe that future public safety systems must continue to implement these alternative public safety programs and professionals.

I also believe that we need a well-funded, disciplined, and accountable police force. Dangerous situations will arise that require armed officers. Considering our current staffing levels, defunding or abolishing the police department would leave Minneapolis vulnerable. I believe that through working with Chief Arradondo we have a real opportunity to change the culture, training, and tactics of the Minneapolis Police Department for the better.

Substantial reform and safety and not mutually exclusive. Through embracing alternatives to armed officers, funding violence prevention programs, and working with our reform-minded chief, we can create a safer, more just, and more effective public safety system.

Reich notes on his website that he was not among the city councilmembers who called for the disbanding of MPD following the murder of George Floyd.

Ward 2: Cam Gordon

Gordon did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment, but on his campaign website he lists six pillars of his public safety policy:

  • Invest in public safety services outside of policing
  • Amend the Charter
  • Focus on prevention
  • Hold police officers accountable
  • Reduce the power of the Police Federation
  • Demilitarize the police

Ward 3: Steve Fletcher

Fletcher did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment, but on his campaign website he states his support for the charter amendment that would replace the police department with a Department of Public Safety.

“This important structural change will allow us to send the right response to each call for service, remove a provision won by the Police Federation in 1961 that currently locks us into our police-only approach, and put police under the same oversight and accountability as every other city department,” he said.

On public safety generally, also from Fletcher’s site:

 

This has been the toughest and the most important conversation happening in our city this term, without question, and I have consistently led our work to reimagine our city’s approach to public safety. The intensity of the calls for structural change increased when George Floyd was killed, but the work did not start in 2020, and it must not stop in 2021. I ran on a platform that called for transforming our system of public safety, and I have taken purposeful steps in that direction each year I’ve served on the Council. I am running again to continue the work.

 

Ward 4: Phillipe Cunningham

Cunningham did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment. On his campaign website, he states his support for creating a new Minneapolis Department of Public Safety.

“CM Cunningham will continue working relentlessly to ensure ALL people are safe by transforming public safety through building out a system of public safety that is as diverse as our city’s residents and their needs,” the site states.

Ward 5: Jeremiah Ellison

Ellison did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment. He was one of five councilmembers — including Alondra Cano, Fletcher, Gordon and Lisa Bender — who authored an ordinance to remove the requirement for a police department from the city charter last summer.

On his campaign website, Ellison says this about public safety:

 

I worked with my colleagues to fund upstream solutions to violence, including establishing the Office of Violence Prevention in 2018, and in the past 3 years, the office has grown from a capacity of $500,000 to a capacity of $2.5 million. The Office of Violence Prevention aims to break the cycle of violence by using a community-centered, public health approach

I continued to expand how we keep each other safe by taking co-responders with mental health professionals citywide, as well as funding a standalone mental health response unit. I will also continue to work to proactively to address youth violence through proven public health approaches, rather than through a police-only approach.

 

Ward 6: Jamal Osman

Osman did not respond to WCCO’s request for comment. His public stance on police reform is posted on his campaign website:

 

For too long, the Minneapolis police department has operated as an organization that lacks community oversight and direction, as well one that is often openly hostile towards people of color within our community. George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers was horrific and the lack of human decency shown by the four officers in the footage we all saw is the reality faced by too many living in Minneapolis. The MPD needs change, and it cannot wait.

The firing and arrest of the four officers, the banning of neck restraints and chokeholds, and forcing officers to intervene when inappropriate force is used are all small, positive steps that the City has taken towards reforming the police department, but it is far from enough. I fully support the efforts to re-imagine a new, different and better way to serve the citizens of Minneapolis.

The police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial, and gender diversity of the communities they are supposed to serve. Police departments nationwide that have more black officers are proven significantly less likely to kill black people. We need a better reflection of the community in those charged with keeping us safe including more who reside in Minneapolis. The Stanek Law should be overturned by our legislature and Minneapolis should re-institute a residency requirement.

As someone that has worked extensively in mental healthcare and public housing, I have seen firsthand how ill-equipped our officers are to handle many of the calls they respond to. There are better ways to structure this so that our community can be kept safe and served more effectively.

Practices like “stop-and-frisk” and arrests for disturbing the…

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