Police Brutality: Minneapolis rejects move to replace police department

Police officers responding to protests in 2020 (FILE)

Voters in Minneapolis have rejected a proposal to replace the city’s police with a new department of public safety.

The decision comes six months after a white Minneapolis officer was convicted of murder for killing George Floyd.

Floyd’s filmed murder led to several days of riots in the city and calls to “defund the police”.

Unlike the police, who report to the mayor, the department of public safety would have been jointly overseen by the mayor and the 13-member city council.

Mental health professionals would have been dispatched for most non-violent crimes, but police officers would have still been available should an arrest need to be made.

The move was championed by Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellis, who oversaw the case against George Floyd’s killer, former officer Derek Chauvin.

Mayor and fellow Democrat Jacob Frey, who was also on the ballot on Tuesday, had opposed the move. Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross told the Minneapolis Tribune that she was not sure if the measure could prevent another black man from dying like Floyd.

“If I could say yes to that I would say vote yes, but I don’t know,” said Ms Ross.

Minneapolis is currently seeing a severe high crime wave, with violent crimes on track to outrank last year’s record high. It comes as part of a national crime surge.

A Reuters investigation in September found that officer interactions with residents plummeted in the year after Floyd’s death in May 2020. Critics say that the data suggested officers had abandoned their duty to keep the peace.

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