All you need to know about “Defund the police” Minneapolis amendment

That’s right, we’re going off-topic again, but this time it’s for a very important reason. We’re only weeks away from the November 2021 election and the Minneapolis ballot has a crucial charter amendment question about establishing a Department of Public Safety, or as it’s more popularly known, “defund the police.”

I’ve just published a podcast with political blogger Naomi Kritzer where we unpack the so-called “defund the police” concept; what it really means, what it does and, more importantly, what it doesn’t do, despite what conservative media would like us to believe.

It’s been a bit of a wild ride getting this question on the ballot, including having to contend with conservative media weaponizing the “defund the police” slogan in its disingenuous efforts to characterize it as a descent into lawless chaos, with streets patrolled by people armed only with smiles and hugs. Obviously, that’s not remotely accurate. The leftiest lefty wouldn’t agree to that, if it were even legally possible, which it isn’t.

And if you’ve been wondering why actual details about the Department of Public Safety have been thin, there’s a good, irritatingly legal reason for that.

Have a listen – or read Naomi’s comprehensive blog post on the topic, including several videos showing how police behaved in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd murder. (Spoiler alert, they behaved horribly.)

The Minneapolis Department of Public Safety, AKA “defund the police,” podcast interview

What does defund the police really entail?

For the record, here’s the full question as it appears on the ballot. Suffice to say, I’ll be voting “yes.”

CITY QUESTION 2 (Minneapolis)

Department of Public Safety

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?

Explanatory Note:

This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.