In November, Minneapolis voters won’t see an obvious question on the ballot like last year’s City Question #2. Nonetheless, almost every federal, state and local public office in the General Election affects policing and public safety. For Minneapolis, the Mayor and Police Chief have direct authority over the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), but those powers are limited by state and federal policies. When you vote, think about how these elected offices impact community safety.
CONGRESS instituted “qualified immunity” that protects public employees from being sued for actions taken on the job. Congress has the authority to make changes at the federal level. Since 2009, more than half of the cases brought against police officers have been dismissed based on qualified immunity.
The GOVERNOR, STATE SENATORS and STATE REPRESENTATIVES set the parameters for police union contracts and oversee both the State Patrol — which has statewide law enforcement authority — and the P.O.S.T. Board — which sets standards of conduct and training for police officers. They also can pass state-level civil rights laws explicitly without qualified immunity.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS manage the social service agencies that provide mobile mental health crisis response and co-responders to accompany police emergencies. They also oversee County Corrections which runs county jails.
The COUNTY ATTORNEY decides which crimes are prosecuted and is responsible for getting guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers.
The SHERIFF serves warrants, subpoenas and orders of protection and has county-wide law enforcement authority, frequently providing back up for the police.
The SCHOOL BOARD is responsible for overseeing the management of safety personnel and systems that keep children safe on school property.
JUDGES oversee criminal and civil lawsuits, set bail and impose sentences.
So, if you care about equity in public safety and policing, vote in every race from the top to the bottom of the ballot and on both sides!
For more details, read the LWV Minneapolis’ Reimagining Public Safety Study. For more information about who is on your ballot, and how to register and vote in the Primary (August 9) and General (November 8) elections, visit www.vote411.org.