Police Reform In Minneapolis And Its Impact On Minnetonka High School

Annabelle Fung, Staff Writer

There have been many occurrences of police brutality demonstrated throughout the course of police history, and many debate whether the police system needs to be reformed. Following the murder of George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, many have been outraged by the police violence and racial injustice displayed. Floyd’s death reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that protested against racial injustices, eventually leading to the proposal of charter amendment Question 2 for the residents of Minneapolis which was nearly passed on November 2, 2021. 

Minneapolis Question 2 was an initiative to “replace the police department with the department of public safety.” The initiative was defeated with a 56% vote for no and a 43% vote for yes.

Those who voted against Question 2 thought the existing Minneapolis Police Department structure should be kept, while those who voted in favor of the initiative wanted to remove and replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. This would mean that the Mayor and city council would nominate and approve a Department of Safety commissioner. Additionally, Question 2 proposed that the minimum funding requirements and the mayor’s power of the police department be removed from the Minneapolis City Charter. 

Deepti Pillai, ‘24, a member of the MCEE, said that she believes “our police system is far overdue for reform. The past two years have made it very clear and evident that there are several flaws in our social justice system. The community needs a different system in place for that trust, respect and safety to be rebuilt.”

Yes 4 Minneapolis is an organization that campaigned for the citizens of Minneapolis to vote yes on Question 2. Veronica Valdes-Perez, the Press and Public Opinion Strategist for Yes 4 Minneapolis, said that they are disappointed that the charter amendment did not pass. 

“[Yes 4 Minneapolis will still] hold elected officials such as Mayor Frey [accountable] for the promises that he made for delivering public safety and bringing us alternatives to armed policing… and we will continue to lead the conversation about what really keeps us safe,” said Valdes-Perez. 

According to statistics from the Washington Post, nearly 1,000 people have been shot and killed by police nationwide between 2015 and 2021, and Black Americans are killed at more than twice the rate of White Americans. In addition to these statistics, after 39% of 47 of the largest US law-enforcement agencies changed their use-of-force policies in 2015-2016, officer-involved shootings dropped 21%. 

Valdes-Perez added that “people know we need a better system and alternatives to armed policing [that] have been proven to work. They have been proven to make communities stronger and to deter crime before it happens.”

Public safety is essential for the well-being of our community; the police system plays an important role in providing that safety, and if they are unable to meet the demands of the public, this can be detrimental towards society. 

Valdes-Perez said that police reform “is by the community, for the community… it’s meant to bring real safety to people who don’t already feel safe, who don’t get the benefits from our current system of public safety.”

Similar to Valdes-Perez, Pillai urged Minnetonka students to vote for change and stated that “when given the opportunity to make our voices heard. It’s critical to do so to achieve the outcomes we are looking for.”