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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

Last weekend, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council announced at a rally with activists that they are committed to dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department.

As the council members stood on stage, they read from banners that outlined their joint commitment to public safety reform:

  • "Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed and will never be accountable for its actions.
  • "We are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new transformative model for cultivating safety in our city.
  • "We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does. We’re committing to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for everyone.
  • "We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months."

You can watch the replay of the rally here or read this story from KSTP that recaps the event.

Minnesotans deserve to live in communities that are safe and secure and calls by city council members to defund and abolish police are reckless and shortsighted. Even Mayor Jacob Frey has publicly announced on numerous occasions that he does not support abolishing the police department.

We should not demonize all police officers because of the terrible action of one officer. I believe that 99% of police officers are honorable and risk their lives to protect and serve their communities especially minority communities. It is foolhardy to suggest abolishing them. 

It’s not immediately clear how the process of abolishing the police department would work. The Minneapolis City Charter spells out that the mayor of the city has complete power over the maintenance, establishment, and conduct of police, but the city council controls the budget.

The charter determines the number of police officers that must be employed by the city. The current rate is equal to .0017 times the number of residents. With a population of 420,000, the number of minimum officers allowed is 723. The current budget allows for 888 officers.

For the city council to “abolish” the police, the city charter would need to be amended. According to KSTP, there are two ways to do this.

The first way the charter can be amended would be through unanimous approval by council members and the mayor. As already stated above, Mayor Frey has said numerous times that he does not support abolishing the police. Additionally, the city council consists of 13 members. While 9 of them have pledged to abolish the police, we do not know where the others currently stand on the issue.

The other way the charter could be amended is by public referendum via simple majority support from city residents.

Outside of the nine city council members, Democrats in Minnesota and nationally have been lukewarm at best when asked if they support defunding, dismantling, or abolishing police. Governor Walz, Speaker Hortman, and other local Democrats have largely avoided answering the question and have instead said that it is a “local decision”.

As the largest city in the state of Minnesota, I believe it would be prudent to hold legislative hearings on what the consequences of abolishing the police would mean for our region and state. Simply put, we cannot allow a rogue city council plunge our state’s largest city into anarchy and chaos.

Let's pray and respect our law enforcement officers while supporting reasonable reforms that address abusive and life-threatening behaviors. Many officers sacrifice and do great work for our communities.

Have a good day,

Glenn

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