Minneapolis council member wants to consider a city ‘without police’

Minneapolis residents already rejected a ballot initiative to replace MPD.

Robin Wonsley Worlobah/City of Minneapolis

A member of the Minneapolis City Council is seeking to imagine what a city “without police could look like.”

Robin Wonsley Worlobah, a Democratic Socialist with a PhD in “Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies” from the University of Minnesota, tweeted on Tuesday that she intended to introduce a motion to “create proposals” on a hypothetical Minneapolis Department of Public Safety with no police officers.

“DPS would centralize & better resource non-police public safety like mental health and social services,” she claimed.

Elaborating on the original tweet, Worlobah said she believes the Minneapolis Police Department has lost public trust and is “incapable” of delivering an “equitable and safe model of public safety.”

“To regain public trust, MPD must address its many structural issues, including those identified in the city’s After Action Review and the upcoming MN Dept of Human Rights and federal Department of Justice investigations. The Mayor has sole authority to implement those changes,” she tweeted.

According to a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is said to have no legal obligation to employ a minimum number of police officers, only a duty to “continuously fund” a force with a minimum number of officers. That decision will remain intact unless the Minnesota Supreme Court overturns it on appeal.

Worlobah is not the first City Council member to revive debate on replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a “public safety department.” In early February, Elliott Payne vowed to introduce an ordinance that would create the new department.

However, the renewed push for a public safety department faces multiple obstacles. For one, Minneapolis residents already rejected a ballot initiative to replace the MPD with a public safety department by a 56% to 43% margin. Ahead of the November vote, Mayor Frey announced his opposition to the initiative.

Two City Council members — Phillipe Cunningham and Steve Fletcher — also lost their seats that same election after throwing their weight behind the initiative.