Senator Releases Statement on Decision

MINNESOTA [10/18/21]— U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today released the following statement on her decision to vote No on the Minneapolis  police ballot amendment:

I will be voting no on Amendment #2 to the Minneapolis City Charter.

Like many of my Minneapolis neighbors, I have wrestled with how to vote.  My core value is to find the right path toward the transformational change we need in public safety, so that everyone is safe in their home and communities.  We know this promise has not been realized for many black and brown communities, which have been traumatized by an epidemic of violence and the long and painful history of racism, redlining, lack of investment, jobs and opportunity.  These communities tell me they want more public safety, and they also want more justice in policing.

After many conversations, I have concluded that Amendment #2 does not address the core public safety challenges we face, and may well move us in the wrong direction.

While there is much I agree with in the Amendment, one component poses an insurmountable problem - the requirement that the new Department of Public Safety report to both the Mayor and the City Council.  My own experience working in City Hall tells me that this change will exacerbate what is a deeply flawed city governance structure, where accountability, authority and lines of responsibility between the Mayor and City Council are diffused and dysfunctional.  I believe imposing this dysfunctional structure for public safety would likely have a negative effect on public safety and the operations of the police department.  This is why I’ll oppose Charter Amendment #2.

With the murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis became the epicenter of a global reckoning around racial justice and police brutality.  People need to make up their own minds about the best way forward, and we must engage in deep discussion and action to transform policing and public safety.  The status quo is unacceptable.”

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