After heated public meeting, proposal giving Mpls. council more control over police moves forward

Updated: 8:50 p.m. | Posted: 7:57 p.m.

A contentious proposal to give the Minneapolis City Council and mayor shared oversight of the police department cleared another hurdle Wednesday night.

After hours of receiving heckles and comments from residents and activists, a council committee voted to move the proposed charter amendment to the full council.

Several community members said the police could no longer be trusted. Activist Nekima Levy-Pounds said she was skeptical the council would bring any meaningful reform to the police.

"Most of you have remained silent or lacked the political will to do a damn thing about the issues we're sitting here talking about," Levy-Pounds said. "To think you would suddenly do an about-face and change your behavior and mentality about holding the police accountable would be asinine on our parts to believe."

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Council Member Abdi Warsame voted against the measure. He said there's a disconnect between activists in the room and his constituents about the need for police.

"What I get from my constituents is, 'We need more resources, we need more police officers, we need more cameras, we need more support,' "Warsame said. "And we need more transparency, and the City Council has the authority to do it."

Previously, Council Member Cam Gordon described the proposal as a way to modernize the Police Department's operation and draw the relationship more in line with how the council interacts with other city departments.

"What I see this as doing is opening up a door, a door for council members to bring ideas in about police policy, and a door for greater transparency about them and formality about them once they're set," Gordon said last month.

Mayor Jacob Frey and allies on the council have opposed the change, saying it would interfere with the mayor's ability to act quickly in public safety situations.

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement last month that "passing this amendment will make both of our jobs more difficult to effectively perform."

The city's charter commission is poised to meet next Wednesday about the proposed amendment. The council could take a final vote on Aug. 9. If the mayor vetoes the measure, the council would need nine votes to override it. Aug. 24 is the deadline for the language to be finalized in time for the November ballot.

MPR News reporter Jon Collins contributed to this report.

Correction (Aug. 2, 2018): An earlier version of this story erroneously reported the date of the meeting.