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City Council Votes To Shift To Community Model Of Policing After Law Blocks Them From Disbanding PD

Minneapolis, MN – After plans to disband the Minneapolis Police Department were blocked because the city charter requires them to fund the department, the City Council voted Friday to create a “transformative new model” of policing.

The plan involves starting a task force to figure out how police could be replaced by “community solutions” to public safety.

According to KARE, suggested strategies could involve funding a “public health approach” to community safety, creating a “Department of Community Safety” to provide a “holistic” approach to public safety, and transitioning work away from the police department.

On Sunday, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council said they would vote to disband the city’s police department, KSMP reported.

They proudly told supporters at a rally on June 7 that they had the votes to override Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of the move, after the mayor came out against abolishing the city’s law enforcement agency.

But it turned out that the city council doesn’t have the power to disband the police department, nor can they tell it what to do, KSMP reported.

The city charter requires the city council to fund the police department and details a formula as to how many police officers should be funded based on the city’s population. And then the city charter tasks the mayor’s office with full authority over the police department.

Right now, the city charter requires the council to fund 723 police officers, based on the most recent population estimates, KSMP reported.

The current city budget actually provided for 888 sworn police officers this year.

In order to reduce the size of the department significantly or disband it completely, there would have to be a unanimous vote of the Minneapolis City Council and the mayor, or the approval of the public via a ballot measure, according to KSMP.

“We might have to take it to the people to have a vote on it, but I think there are a lot of ways in which the council can move forward with the plan even if the mayor isn’t on board,” City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, whose father – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison – has personally taken on the prosecution of the police officers involved in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in custody of May 25.

But despite the stated goal of dismantling the police department, the city council doesn’t seem to have a plan to replace the officers with an alternative way to guard their safety and security.

Councilmembers at the rally talked said calling a neighbor or a social worker could be the new alternatives to calling 911, KSMP reported.

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender, in an interview with CNN, was asked what residents of Minneapolis would do if there were no police and a criminal was breaking into their home in the middle of the night.

“Yes, I mean, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors. And I know – and myself too – I know that that comes from a place of privilege because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality, where calling the police may mean more harm is done,” Bender said.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest. His charges have since been upgraded to second-degree murder.

On June 3, former Minneapolis Police Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder for their role in Floyd’s arrest.

The officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.

Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.

The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.

Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.

The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.

Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.

Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.

After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.

Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.

According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems and possible substances.

“The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” according to the complaint.

But veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told reporters on Monday at the Floyd family press conference that his independent autopsy determined that the man had died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him.

But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.

“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”

“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”

The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.

And a postmortem nasal swab showed that Floyd tested positive SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, according to KSTP. He had previously tested positive for COVID-19 in April 3.

Protests erupted in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death, leaving both Minneapolis and the state’s capital of St. Paul burned, looted, and destroyed.

Rioters overran and torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct where the officers accused of Floyd’s homicide were assigned.

Protests spread across the United States, and became very violent in major cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Portland, Oakland, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington, DC.

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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