(The Center Square) – More than a year after the death of George Floyd in police custody, Minneapolis voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to replace its police department.
According to the state’s election results website, 56% of voters opposed the measure, with 44% voting in favor.
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, welcomed the results.
“Defunding the police was never a good idea, and I’m happy the residents of Minneapolis have made it clear they are not on board with the anti-police rhetoric,” Miller said in a statement. “A professional, trained, and properly staffed police force is crucial in keeping communities safe. Law enforcement is an increasingly challenging profession, and I am grateful for the men and women who serve and protect our communities.”
Question 2 asked voters if they wanted to replace the police department with a new public safety department focused on a “comprehensive public safety approach” that would include police officers “if necessary to fulfill the department’s responsibilities.” Question 2 would remove the minimum funding requirement for police (0.0017 per resident) from the Minneapolis Charter.
Since 2020, violent crime has increased in Minnesota. Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Oct. 11, 2021, there have been 530 gunshot wound victims, a 137% increase from 2019’s 223 victims. The city counted 75 homicides in 2021 in that time, up 114% from 2019’s 35 homicides. Also, the 1,569 robberies counted so far in that period was a 50% increase from 2019’s 1,041.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo opposed the proposal.
“This is too critical the time to wish and hope for that help that we need so desperately right now,” Arradondo said in a press conference last week. “And again, I was not expecting some sort of robust, detailed word for word ‘plan.’ But at this point, quite frankly, I would take a drawing on a napkin.”
Arradondo has pointed out that 87% of victims of violent crime in the city are people of color and said the question wouldn’t stop tragic incidents between residents and police.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Attorney General Keith Ellison backed the proposal.