Minneapolis law enforcement and community members have signed a historic new public safety agreement that aims to rebuild trust between police and citizens.
The 30-page agreement from the City Council contains plans to streamline the five existing public safety departments — fire, police, 9-1-1, emergency management and neighborhood safety — under the Office of Community Safety, which will be led by the city’s first community safety commissioner, Dr. Cedric Alexander.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Alexander, a 40-year law enforcement veteran who worked on a White House task force under President Barack Obama, for the position. He was approved by the City Council and sworn in on August 8 for a four-year term.
Alexander’s goal will be to get all the city’s public safety departments to work together to combat rising crime. He’ll also have to address police and emergency dispatcher shortages and find a new police chief.
“I’m here to help, but it’s going to take all of us in this great city to make Minneapolis a safer place for everyone,” Alexander said after his appointment. “We can’t forget the past, but we truly do have to look toward the future. We need to redesign our approach to public safety so everyone is working together.”
The public safety agreement follows years of debate between activists and lawmakers over whether to defund the police department or replace it entirely with a community safety department run by social workers.
Minneapolis Police Department Interim Chief Amelia Huffman and Unity Communications Mediation Team (UCMT) Chair Ian Bethel signed the agreement, which includes provisions on policing policies such as use of force, diversity hiring and behavioral health, as well as prioritizing the sanctity of life and officer accountability.
The UCMT is an organization representing the diverse communities of Minneapolis, including Black, Native American, Latino, East African, LGBTQ and behavioral health advocates, that has held weekly meetings with the police chief, command staff and Police Federation to address citizen public safety concerns since the killing of George Floyd in 2020.
“We sat at the table every day, for the past two years, every week, and we did what this community wanted us to do,” Bethel said.
The Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) will be responsible for upholding the agreement. The group consists of seven officers and 10 community members.
The UCMT said the goal is to get members of the community to report complaints to the council so that they can act on them.
“[The complaint] is monitored, it’s dealt with and not just dying on a desk,” UCMT member Jerry MacAfee said.
The agreement is unique in that it will not be impacted by who is on the council or by changes in leadership positions such as mayor and police chief.