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Minneapolis voters reject replacing police, look to public safety future

(The Center Square) – Much of the nation watched a video of the arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Department custody leading to his death. Minneapolis voters, however, said they don’t want to replace the police department yet.

In June 2020, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution intending to disband their police department and create a new public safety model in response to Floyd’s death.

But voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, called Question 2 on the Nov. 2 ballot, with an official vote of 56.17% (80,506) “no” and 43.83% (62,813) “yes.”

The question divided the DLF party. U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar pushed for the proposal, blaming the city's increased violence on the MPD. Gov. Tim Walz and Mayor Jacob Frey opposed the question. Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Recent spiking crime and the 2020 riots in which people caused about $500 million of damage while vandalizing nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses might have played a role.

In a press conference last week, Arradondo detailed a spike in violent crime in 2021. Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Oct. 11, 2021, there have been 530 gunshot wound victims, a 137% increase from 2019’s 223 victims. The city counted 75 homicides in 2021 in that time, up 114% from 2019’s 35 homicides. Also, the 1,569 robberies counted so far in that period was a 50% increase from 2019’s 1,041.

"This is too critical the time to wish and hope for that help that we need so desperately right now," Arradondo said. "And again, I was not expecting some sort of robust, detailed word for word ‘plan.’ But at this point, quite frankly, I would take a drawing on a napkin."

The vote follows MPD requesting a $27 million, a boost of 17% funding, to rebuild the force after nearly 300 officers have left since 2020.

Gubernatorial candidate and Republican Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake applauded the vote, after she characterized Question 2 as “misguided.”

"We are already seeing the consequences of fewer law enforcement officers on our streets,” Benson said in a statement. “Defunding our police only increases crime and makes our neighborhoods less safe. It saddens me that Governor Walz did not have the courage to stand up to his radical base and actively campaign against this amendment to defund our police. Unlike Tim Walz, I stand with our law enforcement as they combat violent crime and will work to bridge the divides that are harming our state.”

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association welcomed the result.

​​“This should be a wakeup call to politicians who want to simply abolish and defund police departments. Police officers serve their communities and place public safety and justice for crime victims at the forefront of their daily actions,” they said in a statement. “Let’s work together for increased safety for all, instead of pursuing reckless policies which only empower criminals.”

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