Voters in Minnesota's largest city have rejected what would have been an unprecedented move to dismantle the police department on Tuesday after calls for reform following the death of George Floyd. 

The measure asked voters if they favored amending the city's charter to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. The initiative would have removed language from the charter related to the agency, including minimum funding requirements, and would have divided control of public safety between the mayor and City Council. 

The question failed 57% to 44%, according to the results released by the Minnesota Secretary of State's office with 133 of 136 precincts reporting. It needed 51% of voter approval to pass. 

"I kind of trembled a little bit in the voting booth today because I live in one of the neighborhoods most impacted by crime and violence… and knew the correlation between the lack of policing and good policing," Sondra Samuels, a Minneapolis resident who sued over the measure, told Fox News. "We can have reform and we can have enough police to keep our children, our elderly safe. So this was a win tonight."


Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addresses the media regarding the proposed charter amendment that would replace the police department during a new conference. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

Samuels said she's lost four neighbors to gun violence and several others are putting homes up for sale. 

The ballot question would have essentially removed power from the mayor and police chief in an effort to re-imagine policing amid fraught relationships between law enforcement and minority communities nationwide. Tuesday's vote came as Minneapolis is experiencing an uptick in violent crime similar to other cities.


According to the ballot language, the public safety department would have employed a "comprehensive public health approach" to policing, specifically putting a greater emphasis on mental health. 

The measure was spearheaded by Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of businesses and other groups, which gathered 22,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, which was a battle in itself after it became the subject of legal challenges. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in September that voters could decide on the matter. 

Lawn signs conflict with each other outside of a polling place on Tuesday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

The goal, the group said, was to have options other than officers for responses to non-police-related calls. 

"This campaign began with working-class Black and brown residents marching together to demand a higher standard of public safety in the city. It grew into a city-wide movement that spanned race, income, and neighborhoods, to give residents a say in their future and to advocate for the resources that they need," a Yes 4 Minneapolis statement said. "While this is not the result that we hoped for, the story of our movement must be told."

In a statement to Fox News, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis thanks residents for voting against the question. 

"We as a federation are invested in working with the Department, City leadership and other stakeholders to make Minneapolis a safer place to live, visit and work," the union said. 

A police spokesperson told Fox News that Chief Medaria Arradondo would not be issuing a statement Tuesday night. 

Advocates insisted the measure was not meant to defund the police. As of Oct. 9, the police department had 591 sworn officers, down from 853 in 2018, according to police data provided to Fox News. 

"I am disappointed that people appear to be coming from a place of fear," Erica Mauter, a Minneapolis resident who supported the measure, told Fox News after the results were announced. "When we're uncertain about the future or when change feels tenuous, we want to go back to what made us feel comfortable and to what we already know. We have to challenge ourselves to have some imagination about different paths to a safer Minneapolis."

Even in defeat, Mauter, 43, said she is hopeful incremental steps can be taken toward reforming the Minneapolis Police Department. 

The ballot measure was criticized by some from the onset. Opponents raised concerns over its vague language and a perceived lack of a transitional implementation plan if it were to pass. 

"I'm ecstatic, elated and saddened at the time same because the elected officials who pushed this thing through left the people that they were supposed to represent and got off into their own personality," Pastor Jerry McAfee of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis told Fox News Tuesday night. "They dragged and diverted the attention of what's really going on in our community to something that is a problem but is minuscule when you look at the cause of violence and everything that goes with it."

Voters emerge from Sabathani Community Center after casting their ballots during municipal elections Tuesday in Minneapolis. (David Joles /Star Tribune via AP)

"If they would have given the people a plan to look at, it could have won," he added. "You don’t know what you were going to vote on."

Kevin Kevin Rofidal, a retired police officer from the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, told Fox News he was "pleasantly surprised" by the vote. 

"The people spoke, but also there's people in the community that really stood up in front of this and I think it sent a message nationwide," he said, noting that an officer he spoke with after the vote was "excited" by the result. 

Another question on the same ballot also asked voters if they favored consolidating the rest of the city's municipal departments under the mayor, similar to how the police department is currently organized. Nearly 53% of voters favored the change, according to results from all but three precincts. 


Tuesday gave Minneapolis voters their first chance to give their input on police reform since the May 2020 death of George Floyd by former White Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequent nationwide protests, riots, court battles and promises by elected officials to overhaul how communities, particularly ones of color, are policed. 

The ballot question split Democrats with some like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who is running for a second term, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz opposed. Others like State Attorney General Keith Ellison and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar supported the measure.