Minneapolis will decide whether to replace its Police Department with a public safety agency.

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Minneapolis will decide whether to replace its Police Department with a public safety agency.

Nov. 2, 2021, 11:30 a.m. ET

Nov. 2, 2021, 11:30 a.m. ET

Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, who is up for re-election on Tuesday, opposes an amendment that would abolish the city’s Police Department.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Days after a police officer murdered George Floyd, protesters gathered outside Mayor Jacob Frey’s home demanding that the Minneapolis Police Department be abolished. The mayor said no. The crowd responded with jeers of “Shame!”

On Tuesday, nearly a year and a half since Mr. Floyd’s death thrust Minneapolis into the center of a fervent debate over how to prevent police abuse, voters in the city will have a choice: Should the Minneapolis Police Department be replaced with a Department of Public Safety? And should Mr. Frey, who led the city when Mr. Floyd was killed and parts of Minneapolis burned, keep his job?

Minneapolis became a symbol of all that was wrong with American policing, and voters now have the option to move further than any other large city in rethinking what law enforcement should look like. But in a place still reeling from the murder of Mr. Floyd and the unrest that followed, residents are deeply divided over what to do next, revealing just how hard it is to change policing even when most everyone agrees there is a problem.

Many progressive Democrats and activists are pushing to reinvent the government’s entire approach to safety, while moderate Democrats and Republicans who are worried about increases in crime say they want to invest in policing and improve the current system. In one September poll, 49 percent of residents favored the ballot measure, which would replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, while about 41 percent did not.

The divisions extend to the top of the Democratic power structure in Minnesota. Representative Ilhan Omar and Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, support replacing the Police Department. Their fellow Democrats in the Senate, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, oppose it, as does Mayor Frey.

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