Policing Charter and 2040 Update
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Ward 10 Newsletter Banner - Council President Lisa Bender

Statement on proposed policing Charter change.

At this Friday’s City Council meeting, CM Cam Gordon is proposing to begin an important conversation in Minneapolis: should the City Council have more policy oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department? My colleague is proposing to put a question about this on the ballot in an upcoming election in Minneapolis and I think that the majority of my constituents would welcome this conversation and the chance to weigh in as a voter. I want to share more about this process with you and invite your feedback.
Over the four and a half years I have been in office, I have often heard frustration from constituents about the lack of civilian oversight of  our police department. I have heard many ideas from constituents about policy changes that they would like to see; however, under our City Charter, City Council Members  do not have  authority  to propose such changes. That is why I joined with colleagues last term to call for more policy authority by  the City Council over policing policy and why I support beginning this process to craft a question that could be submitted to Minneapolis voters in an upcoming election that could change the City Charter.
The charter currently reads: "The Mayor has complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department. The Mayor may make all rules and regulations and may promulgate and enforce general and special orders necessary to operating the police department. Except where the law vests an appointment in the department itself, the Mayor appoints and may discipline or discharge any employee in the department (subject to the Civil Service Commission's rules, in the case of an employee in the classified service).”
Right now, though the charter gives the mayor complete authority over policing policy, there aren’t good mechanisms in place for transparency or accountability. I would welcome the chance for the City Council to be able to propose policy, gather feedback from our constituents, hold public hearings and vote on policy change. This is how our system of government works for most city departments.
Let’s be very clear: this ballot question would be an important part of a discussion in this city about how the people of Minneapolis have more transparency and power over public safety decisions because that, at its core, is the goal.
What kind of changes could this mean?
The City Council could set a policy that when they shoot someone, police officers cannot view body camera video footage before they are interviewed by investigators.
The City Council could require every sworn officer in Minneapolis to go through racial implicit bias training, de-escalation training and a mental health evaluation and support before they are put in a job that involves carrying a gun.
The City Council could set policies about the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force policy and disciplinary practices.
The City Council could set benchmarks related to racial profiling in our police department’s stops and provide policy direction to reverse these practices.
Whether you agree with or dislike any of these ideas, if the City Council had this power to propose and vote on policing policy, you would get a clear voice in policy proposals because they would be publicly announced, referred to department staff for research and feedback, given a public hearing and voted on in public.
How do these policies get made now? Do you know? Do you feel like you have a voice?
Those opposed to even having this discussion are using scare tactics to paint a picture of a city in chaos during an emergency. This makes no sense: there is no proposal to change procedures or practices in an emergency situation, which is an authority given to the mayor in a separate part of the charter and under local emergency management statutes.
Those opposed to even having this discussion are trying to argue that no other City Council in the country has this authority. That is untrue. Several city councils around the country have recently adopted or are considering policy changes for their police departments. Some cities, including Detroit and Oakland, have police commissions that oversee their police departments.
What I most want my constituents to know is that this process is just beginning. As a Minneapolis voter, I value your voice in our government and I think it is reasonable to put a question about policing policy to the voters in an upcoming election.
As your Council Member, if I dislike the specifics of a ballot question that would come forward from the Charter Commission either this summer or prior to the 2020 election, I have the power to propose changes for my colleagues to consider before we vote on specific ballot language. And if you disagreed with the proposed details, any voter could vote against the change on the ballot because the question would go directly to you, the voters. And finally, if a question was put on the ballot and voters decided to leave the charter language as it is, I would respect the wishes of Minneapolis voters and continue using the levers of influence we do have to push for change.
To learn more about how the charter amendment process works in Minneapolis, you can read about it here:
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact my office: or 612-673-2210.

 2040 Comprehensive Plan


Reminder: Comment on Draft Minneapolis 2040 Plan by July 22!


The City's draft Minneapolis 2040 plan is open for initial public comment until July 22. If you haven't had a chance to weigh in, the easiest way to make specific comments is to go to

Ward  10 is an engaged community with many different perspectives. I appreciate hearing from all of you and always do my best to hear and balance the ideas, values and concerns. Some big themes I am hearing:

  • more opportunity to strengthen a race equity commitment in our transportation and infrastructure policies
  • support for centering environmental and community health in this plan and in our actions between now and 2040
  • concern about allowing more housing in Ward 10 and across the city, particularly around the size and scale of buildings
  • desire for stronger and more clear affordable housing commitments in this plan
  • ideas about how to better support small businesses in this plan and other city policies
  • need for stronger wealth-building strategies particularly for communities of color, and stronger policies to stop displacement in our communities


Please keep your feedback coming in, I appreciate all that have taken the time to get engaged so far.

If you have any questions please contact Kristina Erazmus in my office at: or 612-673-2210


Check out the upcoming City of Minneapolis public meetings and hearings as well as Ward 10 neighborhood associations events!

City of Minneapolis Meetings

Neighborhood Associations

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You can use Minneapolis 311 by phone website, smartphone app, or by email at to find out information, access services, and report issues.

311 Phone Hours:

Monday - Friday: 7am – 7pm
Saturday - Sunday: 8am – 4:30pm

About Lisa

Lisa Bender was reelected to serve her second term as  the 10th Ward City Council Member in November 2017. She was also elected to serve as City Council President by a unanimous vote of her fellow council members. Lisa lives in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood with her husband Ryan and two daughters.

Contact the Ward 10 Office

Office Phone

Lisa Bender
Council President

D'Ana Pennington
Council Policy Aide

Tina Erazmus
Council Associate

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