Minneapolis dropping duplicate effort to replace police

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three Minneapolis City Council members who were trying to advance a proposal to replace the police force with a new agency are dropping that effort after a similar citizen-led approach made it onto the November ballot.

Council members Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham and Jeremy Schroeder formally withdrew the proposal they drafted, citing possible confusion for voters between their ballot question and a similar proposal put forth by Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of local groups, the Star Tribune reported.

The council version was withdrawn during a Wednesday committee meeting, and the full council will vote on the withdrawal Friday.

The city has been under pressure to overhaul policing after George Floyd’s fatal encounter with former Officer Derek Chauvin last year. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years for murder. A Justice Department probe into the department’s policing practices has compounded that pressure.

The new efforts were moving ahead simultaneously after a similar attempt to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of Floyd’s death was blocked last year when the Charter Commission decided to take more time to review it.

The council proposal and the ballot measure aim to amend the Minneapolis charter to replace the Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety and shift authority over the police from the mayor to the City Council. The City Council version included licensed peace officers in addition to other divisions, while the group’s proposed language would employ police “as necessary, to fulfill responsibilities for community safety.”

The withdrawal comes as the city attorney’s office determined the language of the Yes 4 Minneapolis ballot question was legal and is expected to be put before Minneapolis voters in November. The group delivered a 20,000-signature petition to officials at City Hall in April. The signatures were verified by the city clerk’s office before going before the City Council.

The ballot question’s wording must now be approved and submitted to Hennepin County officials by Aug. 20 for the amendment to make it on the November ballot.

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