Brooklyn Center City Council approves measure to reshape public safety

A vigil and march in honor of Daunte Wright
Activist Toshira Garraway (left) and Katie Wright (center), mother of Daunte Wright, are joined by hundreds of other people for a march to the Brooklyn Center Police Department on May 2. The marchers were calling for justice for Daunte Wright, 20, who was fatally shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11. City council members on Saturday passed a resolution calling for public safety changes in the Twin Cities suburb.
Kerem Yücel for MPR News

Updated: May 16, 10:50 a.m.

City councilors in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center on Saturday evening approved a resolution setting a path toward major public safety changes.

The 4-1 vote to advance Mayor Mike Elliott's proposal came at the end of a nearly three-hour meeting. And it came just over a month after the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in the city. 

The resolution calls for the city to create new divisions of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and respond to mental health crises. It would also limit situations in which officers can make arrests.

"We have known for years that there are better approaches than always sending armed police — and yet, despite knowing all this, in truth we keep doing the same thing over and over and over again," Elliott said ahead of the vote. "Well, not anymore."

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A man stands next to a collection of microphones.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott addresses the media during a press conference April 20 at the site where Daunte Wright was killed.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

In response to concerns raised by law enforcement groups that the resolution would conflict with state law and could put public safety at risk, Elliott said Saturday's vote was just the start of a process — a process in which those concerns can be addressed and other details worked out.

“This resolution lays out an inclusive and deliberative process that ensures stakeholders' input, and thorough legal analysis and review at every step along the way,” he said.

Elliott voted for the measure, as did council members Marquita Butler, April Graves and Dan Ryan.

Council member Kris Lawrence-Anderson voted no, saying more time was needed to discuss and vet the resolution.

Wright's family was in attendance for Saturday's council meeting, as was the family of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center police officers in 2019 while in a mental health crisis. Both families gave their support to the measure and urged council members to pass it.

Katie Wright, mother of Daunte Wright, told council members before the vote that she believed her son would still be alive if the changes outlined in the resolution had been implemented before April 11, the day he was shot by police.

“I don't want to have to see somebody in six months to a year doing the exact same thing that we are as families — standing here and begging for change, begging for our children to be safe driving a vehicle, sitting in their own home,” Katie Wright said.