On Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021, 57% of voters in Minneapolis voted against Question 2, a measure which, if passed, would have overhauled the city’s police department by replacing it with a Department of Public Safety. The new Department of Public Safety would have employed a “comprehensive public health approach” to the department’s “delivery of functions.” The replacement of the police chief with a commissioner nominated by the major and appointed by the city council, the elimination of the police staffing requirement, and the use of nonpolice first responders (e.g., therapists and social workers) for nonviolent situations (e.g., substance abuse emergencies, mental health crises, etc.) are among some of the changes that would have occurred had the measure been approved by Minneapolis’ residents. But, despite the public outrage and national Black Lives Matter protests that were sparked by the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, opponents and supporters have been engaged in a contentious fight over the impact that the measure would have on the community. Opponents, for example, argued that the measure was a “dangerous experiment” and that the overhaul would not help make the city safer because “there’s no specificity as to what services [the Department of Public Safety] would provide, what law enforcement would look, what residents can expect.” Supporters of the measure, on the other hand, argued that “public safety is not just about policing,” that police officers are not trained to deal with some of the situations that they encounter, and that the new department structure would give the city flexibility over how it responds to crime. Although the measure failed, the All of Mpls campaign which vehemently opposed the measure, stressed the importance of pursuing a “planful” approach to transforming policing and public safety in the city that would include “meaningful consultation with the communities most impacted.”
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.
- Writing: Explain why the city of Minneapolis is at the forefront of the police reform debate.
- Debate: According to All of Mpls, a community coalition against Question 2, the overhaul of the police department would have been a “dangerous experiment with no plan for the future of public safety.” Do you believe that the city of Minneapolis would have become an unsafe place if the measure had passed?
- Poll: Public safety is not just about policing. (Agree or Disagree).
- Short Answer: Discuss some of the changes that would have occurred had Question 2 been approved by Minneapolis voters.
Cover Image: iStock.com/SKrow