Minneapolis voters have rejected a ballot initiative that would have replaced the police department with a Department of Public Safety.
The new department could have included police if necessary to accomplish its public safety role, according to the measure.
“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,” according to an explanatory note about the proposal. “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.”
Prominent Minnesota Democrats were split on the proposal, according to the Washington Post, which reported that while U.S. Rep. inhan Omar and the state’s attorney general Keith Ellison backed it, Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar opposed the proposal.
While voters ultimately shot down the proposal, a sizable proportion of them appear to have voted in favor of it based on the election results so far. As of 11:06 p.m. EST, the results show 56% voted against the measure and 44% voted in favor of it.
Minneapolis was the epicenter of a nationwide debate over issues of race and policing that erupted in the wake of the death of George Floyd last year.