June 8, 2020 / 11:14 PM / a month ago

Minneapolis council members see community programs as replacement for police

(Reuters) - Four Minneapolis City Council members in favor of dismantling the city’s police department on Monday outlined broad plans to shift funding to community-based programs that reduce violence and limit the need for an armed law enforcement response.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison told a media call that it could take a year to discuss reforms with the public and come up with “an entirely new apparatus for public safety” to replace the Minneapolis Police Department.

“I think there is this mistake that a lot of folks are making in thinking that we are talking about abolishing safety,” Ellison said. “No, we are talking about abolishing failure of a police structure that doesn’t keep us safe.

Ellison was part of a veto-proof majority of the council that on Sunday called for disbanding the police department in after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Council member Alondra Cano said she expected an amended budget proposal from Mayor Jacob Frey in the coming weeks and would look to redirect funds into “community safety strategies” for the “new safety system we all want to create.”

Ellison said he wanted to increase support for successful local programs like one that connects people with mental health issues with counselors and one that extracts kids from gangs.

Council member Phillipe Cunningham said the city should take a “public health approach” to public safety, treating “violence as disease that spreads.” He said most 911 calls concerned domestic violence, but he could not get sufficient funding for that issue in the past.

Cunningham said he was not interested in a reform that would see the city simply conduct a mass rehiring of police officers.

“I am not interested in taking that particular route because I do not believe that we will have different outcomes than what we currently have.”

reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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