Minneapolis City Council Doesn’t Have The Authority To Disband Police Department

Despite their best efforts, that the Minneapolis City Council lacks the legal authority to actually disband the police without some significant legal maneuvering.


The Minneapolis City Council says they’re on track to abolish the police, however, the City Charter seems to stand in their way. 

Prominent members of the City Council have voiced their opinion that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) should be disbanded in accordance with the demands of protestors who took to the streets after George Floyd died in police custody. Now, a veto-proof majority of Council members is ready to proceed with a plan to end the MPD by defunding it over the next several months. There is just one issue with this agenda: the founding legal document of Minneapolis. 

According to the Charter, § 7.3, “the City Council must fund a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident, and provide for those employees’ compensation.” This means that the Council is required to fund at least 720 police department staff, given current population data. The department currently employs about 850 cops.

Screenshot/City Charter

The Charter also stipulates that the Mayor has “complete power” over the MPD. This is significant because the current Mayor, Jacob Frey, was recently shamed into walking out of a rally in his own city after he announced that he does not support the total dismemberment of the police force. (RELATED: Watch— Minneapolis Mayor Shamed Into Leaving Rally Because He Won’t Defund Police)

Screenshot/City Charter

It seems that because of the way § 7.3 of the City Charter is worded, an amendment to Minneapolis’s constitutional document must be made if the Council is to realize its dream of living in a “police free” city. Any such amendment must either pass a public vote or enjoy the unanimous support of both the Council and the mayor. Meanwhile, only 16% of Americans feel that it’s a good idea to disband the police, per a recent YouGov poll.