Population: 429,954 in 2020

Type of government: City

Violence interruptors with the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention. (Source: City of Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention)

Amidst the community uprising following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to disband the Minneapolis police department and replace it with “a department of community safety and violence prevention, which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”1 In their FY2020 budget, they moved $8 million from the Minneapolis Police Department budget and increased funding to their Office of Violence Prevention and other services and created a new mobile mental health crisis response team.2 They defunded the mounted patrol unit (although the department did not actually get rid of the unit)3 and moved the community navigator, parking, and crime prevention specialists out of the police department.4

There were a number of roadblocks to meeting the city council’s goal of creating a department of public safety instead of a police department, including the city charter requiring a minimum number of officers per capita. A Black-led, broad community coalition called Yes for Minneapolis proposed a ballot initiative to amend the city charter to create the public safety department, eliminate the minimum staffing requirement, and allow at least some officers to be replaced by social workers, mental health experts, and crisis managers.5 The Yes for Minneapolis campaign collected more than 20,000 resident signatures to place the measure on the ballot. Ultimately, in November 2021, voters opposed the initiative 56 percent to 44 percent. 

1  Vanessa Romo, “Minneapolis Council Moves to Defund Police, Establish ‘Holistic’ Public Safety Force,” NPR, June 26, 2020, https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/06/26/884149659/minneapolis-council-moves-to-defund-police-establish-holistic-public-safety-forc; Steve Fletcher, “I’m a Minneapolis City Council Member. We Must Disband the Police–Here’s What Could Come Next,” Time, June 5, 2020, https://time.com/5848705/disband-and-replace-minneapolis-police/.

2  Avie Schneider, “Minneapolis Shifts $8 Million in Police Funding but Keeps Force at Current Level,” NPR, December 110, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/10/944938471/minneapolis-shifts-8-million-in-police-funding-but-keeps-force-at-current-level; “Minneapolis City Council votes 13-0 to Fund Creation of Mobile Mental Health Response Teams,” CBS Minnesota, July 2, 2021, ​​https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2021/07/02/minneapolis-city-council-votes-13-0-to-fund-creation-of-mobile-mental-health-response-teams/

3  Max Nesterak, “The Minneapolis City Council Defunded Mounted Patrol Last Year. The Unit Still Exists,” Minnesota Reformer, September 20, 2021, https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/09/20/minneapolis-city-council-defunded-mounted-patrol-last-year-the-unit-still-exists/.

4  The Demand is Still #Defundthepolice: Lessons from 2020 (Interrupting Criminalization, 2020), https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ee39ec764dbd7179cf1243c/t/60806839979abc1b93aa8695/1619028044655/%23DefundThePolice%2BUpdate.pdf.

5  Maya King, “‘The World is Looking at Us’”: Minneapolis Puts ‘Defund hte Police’ to a Vote,” Politico, September 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/22/minneapolis-reckoning-defund-the-police-513568.