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Why voters rejected plans to replace the Minneapolis Police Department – and the next step in police reform

It is not difficult to predict that Yves will not succeed as a call for political action by the “divestment of the police”. When social trust with high income inequality is low and the crime rate is high, “funding the police” sounds too much like “getting rid of the police.” An important first step, such as making it easier to prosecute and dismiss bad police officers, will not produce sexy slogans, but will have a meaningful impact in the short term.1

Although the Minneapolis voting initiative is barely a measure of “appropriating the police,” it is complicated, and some voters seem to be confused with budget cuts. As this article shows, people of color who are often victims of police prejudice can live in neighbors with high crime rates and still want the police to come when they call.

Author: Michelle S. Phelps, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law at the University of Minnesota.Originally published on dialogue

Voters of Minneapolis Reject a measure This will change the city’s policing in 18 months The death of George Freud Pushed the city to the forefront of the police reform debate.

By one 56% to 44% margin, Voters say “no” to a person Constitution amendment This will replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety focused on public health solutions.

Michelle Phelps Leadership at the University of Minnesota Projects focusing on attitudes towards police in the city. The dialogue asked her to explain what happened during the November 2, 2021 voting, and the results of the troubled police station in Minneapolis and the national police reform movement. The edited version of her response is as follows.

What did voters in Minneapolis reject?

this The wording of the amendment Very complicated.

Essentially, the amendment will abolish the existing police department in the city charter and replace it with a Ministry of Public Safety, responsible for providing a “comprehensive public health approach” for public safety. The details of the new department will be set by the mayor and the city council.

So this is a “divestment of police” bill?

The proposed amendment itself does not call for a reduction in the number of police officers, but it removes barriers to divestment. This is an opportunity for a new policing method.

The amendment will remove Minneapolis’s requirement to maintain the city charter Minimum number According to the size of the population. It will transfer some police powers from the mayor to the city council, which may require the new department to focus its resources on alternatives to uniformed police, such as unarmed community officials or mental health experts.

Why did the modification fail?

The vote should not be taken as evidence that Minneapolis residents are satisfied with city security.Opinion polls show that the Minneapolis Police Department Generally considered unfavorable, Especially among black residents. 44% of voters did vote for the amendment, so this is a very complicated signal.

The reasons why people voted against the amendment are complicated. Yes, there is a sense of dissatisfaction among the more conservative white residents of Minneapolis who see this as a radical attack on law and order. But it also failed to gain sufficient support in electoral districts with a majority of black residents.

One possible reason: and More likely to face police brutality, Because of neighbourhood violence, black Americans are also more likely to seek help from the police. This has raised concerns about the impact of the amendment on the number of police officers.

As a result, the underworld Divided In the amendment.While some black activists and city leaders called for the demolition or abolition of the Minneapolis Police Department, other black residents of North Minneapolis also Sued the city for hiring more officials.

Who voted against the amendment?

We don’t have a complete breakdown of the voting, but we have Regional heat map Roughly indicate who voted “yes” and who voted “no”.

In some areas of South Minneapolis, especially the multi-ethnic communities around George Floyd Square, support for the amendment is high. There is also strong support in some high-end communities with many young white voters.

In the southwest constituency—where there are a group of wealthy white residents—the opposition to the amendment is very strong. However, most districts in North Minneapolis, with the highest proportion of black voters, also voted “no” on average. From the perspective of race, the story of the amendment is complicated.

The preliminary poll results also show that age is an important difference, even more important than race.

All in all, the support and opposition of Minneapolis Issue 2 highlights the complex racial politics surrounding the fear of police violence and the fear of crime.

Are these fears supported?

Of course, opponents of the amendment tried to argue that efforts to reimagine policing have made Minneapolis less secure.Indeed, a Many officers have left the army Since the summer of 2020, many people have left to go to departments outside the city, while others have taken sick leave due to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

The public generally believes that the smaller the number of police officers, the greater the violence in the community. But the truth of the matter is more tricky. The city did not provide funds for the police- 2021 budget Roughly the same as 2020. Therefore, the decline in the number of police officers is not the result of the city’s funding for the department. Instead, the officer is leaving the army. There is also some evidence that officials who remain sometimes evade their duties to the public or “Pull back“In active activity.

It is too simple to say that the decrease in the number of police has led to an increase in violent crime.We also Must consider The economic and social impact of the pandemic and the fact that the courts were also closed during this period.

At the same time, since the murder of George Floyd, police violence in Minneapolis has been subject to strict scrutiny, which has changed the way police officers and citizens interact-911 calls versus shootings The incidence of deceased has declined, and the degree of trust is low.at the same time Increased gun sales May also contribute to growth. Therefore, in addition to the number of police officers or their work, there are many factors that can contribute to violence or promote safety.

What is the next step in police reform in Minneapolis?

I don’t believe this is the end of the amendment-it may return in some form. Yes, it failed this time, but when it comes to law enforcement, there is a group of residents, organizers and activists who want to get rid of the status quo.

The top priority for this city will be Hire officials to comply with court orders to comply with the minimum official standards in the city charter, In addition to continuing efforts to reform the sector. Therefore, in the near future, we may see more officers, not fewer.

However, in addition to reforms, there is still real momentum for the transformation of the police field. It is still possible for Minneapolis to obtain the Department of Public Safety, but it will pass the city ordinance instead of an amendment and will not dissolve the Minneapolis Police Department. The city is continuing to recruit new mental health professionals to respond to some 911 calls.

At the same time, we have a Ongoing Federal Department of Justice investigation. This is likely to end with a consent decree or memorandum of understanding, which will enforce some of the changes that activists and community members are seeking.

How will this vote affect the broader police reform movement?

After George Floyd, police work in Minneapolis is no longer just a matter of Minneapolis.

For advocates of the type of change envisaged by the amendment, this is a mixed result. Although some people might argue that the failure of the amendment to prove that the cancellation of the police funding or the abolition of the police is politically harmful, nearly half of the voters voted for it—despite failure, the momentum has never been so strong.

If it is followed The number of shootings continues to increase, The danger is that the amendment will be held accountable. For those who are pushing for a “yes” vote, the silver lining is that perhaps the city now has the opportunity to develop alternative public health models without the need for so many national scrutiny.

One thing is certain: this is not the end of the conversation.


1 Remember, Derek Chauvin is a typical bad policeman with a record of complaints. A study on the failure of police reform in Los Angeles found that this is a classic power law problem: a small number of police officers account for almost all serious misconducts, and they are all repeat offenders. But it is reasonable for the “better” police to remain silent about the abuse they see, lest they have no back-up when the situation is bad.

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