How Question 2 Will Transform Public Safety in Minneapolis

October 21, 2021

Vote yes on 2! Image shows a bowl of ice cream labelled "Department of public safety budget" and the ice cream in it is being scooped into bowls labelled "De-escalation specialists," "Addiction specialists," "Social workers," and "Police."

Every day between now and November 2, the people of Minneapolis, MN, have a chance to fundamentally transform their city’s approach to public safety, creating a model that will guide and inspire cities and towns all across the US to do the same. 

How? By voting YES on Question 2. (If you don’t live in Minnesota, you can still help make this a reality.)

Question 2 is a ballot initiative that would amend the Minneapolis city charter to replace its ineffective police department with a new department of public safety that takes a comprehensive public health approach to ensuring everyone’s health, safety, and well-being. It’s a fundamental rethinking of how we create truly safe communities.


What Question 2 Will Do

Minneapolis organizers, activists, and residents have worked for years to dismantle the failed system of policing that led to the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black men and women in their city and across America, and build a new system of public safety. Question 2 is the result of that hard work, and we think it could point the way forward not only for Minneapolis, but for the rest of the country too.

If passed, Question 2 will:

  • Amend the city charter to allow for the creation of a Department of Public Safety.
  • Remove a requirement for the city to maintain an armed police-only model of safety with no flexibility on staffing and resourcing.
  • Kick off a data-driven community engagement process to establish the exact number and type of qualified professionals who will best serve the city’s needs—including social workers, mental health workers, de-escalation experts, substance-use specialists, AND some police officers.


Why Question 2 Matters

This country spends $115 billion a year on policing, and all that money is not keeping us safe. In fact, in communities of color, the police often cause more violence than they prevent. People in Minneapolis have been protesting racist, violent policing for decades.

On the other hand, police are routinely asked to respond to issues outside of their expertise—everything from mental-health crises and substance use to loud music, a loose dog, or wellness checks on seniors. In too many instances, bringing police into a situation actually escalates it, resulting in violence and the criminalization of individuals and even entire neighborhoods. This doesn’t make us safer—it just erodes trust in the police and the government.

Question 2 recognizes the fact that our system of public safety does not live up to its stated goal of securing public safety. We need a different approach. The Minneapolis city charter, as mentioned above, has a minimum police staffing requirement that was put in place in 1961. That was 60 years ago! Times have changed. Our communities’ needs have changed. But Minneapolis and other cities keep throwing ever-increasing amounts of money at police departments whose fundamental approach to public safety hasn’t changed in decades.


Minneapolis Is Ready for Change

Question 2 is not simply a police-reform measure. Minneapolis has tried reforming its police department. They spent millions of dollars, over many years, on initiatives like new training and updated policies, but it didn’t do anything to address the actual needs of Minneapolis communities. Instead it maintained the status quo—responding to every call for help with overmilitarized policing. Which is why we need to stop thinking about policing and public safety as being the same thing.

Minneapolis’s new Department of Public Safety will include a range of professionals whose roles have little to do with traditional police work, but who nonetheless will have a profound impact on creating true public safety:

  • Social workers and housing experts to help unhoused people find a place to live
  • Mental health and substance-use specialists to help people experiencing a health crisis
  • De-escalation experts to resolve issues like noise complaints and domestic disputes

Armed police are in the mix as well, but only to respond to violent or dangerous situations. Though police unions are attempting to obscure the facts, the truth is clear: Question 2 actually expands the city’s approach to public safety.


Question 2 as a Model for the Country

This is an incredibly powerful and inspiring moment. If the people of Minneapolis pass Question 2, its new Department of Public Safety could become a model for dozens of other cities around the US where people are working to transform policing and create a new, more just system of true public safety that ensures everyone’s health, safety, and well-being.

If you live in Minneapolis, vote YES on Question 2. If you don’t, the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign has many ways, like virtual phonebanking, for you to get involved. We’ve seen what happens when people work together to make change! Together, we make this vision of true public safety a reality.