Omar made the comments during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“A new way forward can’t be put in place if we have a department that is having a crisis of credibility, if we have a department that’s led by a chief who’s suited for racism, if we have a department that hasn’t solved half of the homicides,” Omar said. “And so, you can’t really form a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild.”
Omar’s comments came amid nationwide protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer late last month. The protests in turn have sparked debate about whether police departments should be defunded or reformed – leaving the question: what would be the alternative?
Minneapolis’ City Council members last week announced a veto-proof push to disband the city’s police department. On Friday, the council passed a resolution to start crafting a new model of public safety with the community’s input, without delving into many specifics.
“This is our opportunity, you know, as a city, to come together and have the conversation of what public safety looks like, who enforces the most dangerous crimes that take place in our community,” Omar said. “And just like San Francisco did, right now, they’re moving toward a process where there is a separation of the kind of crimes that solicit the help of, you know, officers, and the kind of crimes that we should have someone else respond to.”
Asked by host Jake Tapper to clarify her position, Omar said the “conversation” has been misconstrued.
“No one is saying that the community is not going to be kept safe. No one is saying crimes will not be investigated. No one is saying that we are not going to have proper response when community members are in danger,” she said. “What we are saying is the current infrastructure that exists as policing in our city should not exist anymore and we can’t go about creating a different process with the same infrastructure in place.”
At least seven Minneapolis police officers have quit and another seven were in the process of resigning, citing a lack of support from department and city leaders.
Current and former officers told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that officers were upset with Mayor Jacob Frey’s decision to abandon the Third Precinct station during the riots. A crowd set the building on fire after officers left.
The department has faced decades of allegations of brutality and other discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.