On April 30, Yes 4 Minneapolis submitted over 20,000 signatures for an initiative to repeal and replace provisions in the city charter governing the police department. This initiative would remove language concerning the city’s police department from the city charter, including provisions requiring minimum funding for the department and giving the mayor control over the department. It would replace the police department with a department of public safety. Under the initiative, the mayor would nominate—and the city council would appoint—the commissioner of the public safety department.
A total of 11,906 valid signatures—5% of votes cast in Minneapolis in the last statewide general election—are required to put the initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot. The city clerk has 10 days to verify signatures after the city’s charter review commission considers the measure at its May 5 meeting.
The city council is also considering a potential 2021 charter amendment concerning the structure of the city’s police department.
In 2020, the city council approved a measure for the ballot to remove the police department from the city charter and replace it with the department of community safety and violence prevention. The 2020 measure would have given the city council, rather than the mayor, control of the department. The Minneapolis Charter Commission did not send the proposal back to the city council until after the city council’s deadline to add the measure to the November 2020 ballot. This effectively blocked the measure.
In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local ballot measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. Ballotpedia has tracked five certified measures in 2021 so far.
Voters in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, decided police-related measures on May 1. Austin voters approved a measure to authorize the city council to determine how the director of the Office of Police Oversight is appointed or removed. San Antonio voters rejected a measure that would have repealed local authority for collective bargaining with the San Antonio Police Officers Association to negotiate wages, healthcare, leave, and other policies.
In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 notable police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states that appeared on local ballots. All 20 were approved.