Minneapolis mayoral hopefuls weigh in on future of police department
What the Minneapolis Police Department should look like in the future is a huge topic in the city's mayoral race.
State of play: The public safety charter amendment on the ballot would do away with the current minimum officer requirement and replace MPD with a new public safety agency that could include sworn officers "if necessary."
- If the amendment passes, many details of that new department will be decided by the next mayor and City Council.
Context: The city has budgeted for 770 police officers, but due to a wave of retirements and long-term leave, it's been operating with around 650 officers for the past several months.
Where they stand: There are 17 candidates in the race, but only four have reported substantial fundraising: incumbent Jacob Frey and challengers Kate Knuth, Sheila Nezhad and A.J. Awed. Here's what they've said recently about how many police officers they would employ:
- Knuth said at a DFL Lawyers Committee debate last week she would commit to 770 for a two-year period.
- Frey said he wants 888 officers.
- Nezhad said she wants 888 public safety staff, including police, mental health responders, domestic violence advocates and gun violence prevention specialists. Her campaign didn't respond when asked how many would be officers.
- Awed wasn't at the debate, but his campaign spokesperson told Nick he wants 888 officers, and to eventually add 200-400 unarmed peace officers.
Between the lines: Recent polling suggests Minneapolis voters want both major changes to MPD and the same number of officers as we have now.
- A majority of voters (55%) don't want to see MPD shrink, according to a MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11/Frontline Minnesota Poll released over the weekend.
- Yes, but: The same poll found 49% of voters support replacing MPD with a new public safety department. Meanwhile, 41% oppose it and 10% are undecided.
What to watch: With early voting underway, debate about the future of MPD is sure to intensify, potentially shaping both the outcome of the charter amendment campaign and the mayor's race.
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