Minneapolis voters have a chance to decide on a police replacement measure, Fox News reports.
Voters can either reject or approve a measure that would dismantle the city’s police department.
It would then be replaced by another law enforcement agency.
This is the first real decision after Minneapolis became the epicenter of the police reform movement following the death of George Floyd last year.
A majority of voters would need to endorse the measure for it to pass.
Some Black residents told the Associated Press that they don’t want to replace the police department.
These residents cited safety concerns. Abolishing the police department could negatively impact communities.
“Everybody says we want the police to be held accountable and we want fair policing. No one has said we need to get rid of the police,” Armstrong, a Black activist who owns a mental health practice and a clothing store, told AP.
“There needs to be a huge overhaul from the ground up, but we need some form of community safety because over here shots are ringing out day and night.”
“The issue of the police is not the number one thing that African-Americans are facing,” Rev. Jerry McAfee, a pastor at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, told Fox News.
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Supporters say the move would overhaul how policing is conducted in the city. The goal is for the replacement law enforcement agency to employ an appropriate response depending on the type of call received. In other words, a counselor or social worker could respond to mental health calls instead of police officers.
“I was raised to understand that when you get in trouble, you call 911 and someone on the other end is going to help. Most of the time, unless it’s fire, the helper is going to be a police officer,” Erica Mauter, a Minneapolis resident who supports the measure, told Fox News. “I’ve come to understand as I’ve lived more of my life that sometimes the right helper for the problem is not a police officer with a gun.”
On the flip side, opponents have voiced concerns over the measure’s vague language and how such a transition would be implemented and its impact on policing in Minnesota’s largest city.
“They can’t just take the largest city in the state and take the police away and put in some social workers,” Kevin Rofidal, a retired police officer from the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, told Fox News. “The police aren’t the problem here. The problem is going to be who is going to show up at the polling place.”
“Is it the people in the high-crime neighborhoods or is it the progressive who just moved here and want to change the city?” he added.
A spokesman for Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group that gathered 22,000 signatures to get the question on the ballot, told Fox News last week they want “public safety that prioritizes a public health lens so that we ensure that professionals who are trained in their fields are responding to calls that are relevant to those fields.”