I'm a candidate for Minneapolis City Council in the 10th Ward, which starts just south of downtown and reaches from Whittier and the Wedge to south Uptown, east Bde Maka Ska and east Harriet.
I knock doors in the 10th Ward nearly every day to ask what people love about their community and what they are worried about. Nearly without fail, neighbors tell me that they love their neighbors and the walkability of their neighborhoods, but that they are concerned about crime and our police department.
Their police calls go unanswered, drivers terrorize their streets with spinning, noise and speed, and guns are fired where they shop and socialize.
I'm sure this doesn't surprise you. Minneapolis crime has headlined front pages and broadcast stories nationwide for more than a year. From the police murder of George Floyd to gun and car violence to homelessness and worst-in-class racial inequities, the social fissures in our community, and in communities across the U.S., are clear to see.
What might surprise you is the level of enthusiasm among Minneapolis residents for the future of our city. My neighbors are deeply committed to the city of lakes that they love. They recognize the work ahead to solve systemic issues, and they want their elected officials to implement the changes needed to fix them.
Minneapolis is known for civic innovation and I've heard that reimagining our public safety system can and must take its place among our successes. Here's what else I've heard:
- Residents see that our highly specialized armed policing system is not working. 10th Ward residents strongly prefer a broad public safety effort that includes multiple tools and personnel appropriately trained for multiple scenarios. Our public safety toolbox requires medical and mental health first responders, homeless action teams, property crime and investigation professionals, transit ambassadors and armed police officers.
- Minneapolis residents know their mayor is solely responsible for supervising the police, and that he, like mayors before him, has failed. They understand that public safety is complex and that there's no one solution to Minneapolis policing problems. They agree that success today demands neither police abolition nor maintaining the status quo.
- Neighbors want prevention. When it comes to streets, better design can deter street racing and slow vehicles down. I've talked with parents on blocks from Whittier to east Bde Maka Ska who want speed bumps to control speed. Right now, blocks can only get speed bumps through a petition process and a property tax assessment on adjacent properties. In an 80% rental ward, that process is infeasible and inequitable and it's time to change that.
- People want public safety responders to be integrated, not across multiple city departments, but into a Department of Public Safety. And they want a voice in setting policy for this new department, not just through the mayor but through their elected City Council representative.
- The Minneapolis community wants humane, effective alternatives to armed policing, like Eugene, Oregon's Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (Cahoots) mobile response team. In 2019 Cahoots specialists diverted nearly 8% (17,700) of Eugene's armed police calls for less than a million dollars — a spend of not even 2% of the city's entire $58 million police department budget. Imagine what a similar group would accomplish in Minneapolis.
People, organizations and businesses in the 10th Ward tell me they are optimistic about the future. But they want change without delay: a safer community and an effective public safety department.
Change starts with a "yes" vote on City Question 2 — Department of Public Safety — and continues with my election to City Council, where I will work tirelessly to make Minneapolis a safer city where everyone knows they belong.
Katie Jones is a DFL candidate for Minneapolis City Council in the 10th Ward.