This past fall, the City of Minneapolis had an important municipal election that would set the tone for the future of the city (and many would say the country) heading into 2022. With mayoral and city council races as well as highly debated measures on the ballot, there was a lot of attention given to the election. One ballot measure in particular gained national attention – the question of whether Minneapolis should amend the city charter to defund or dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety. The ballot question came along after a year and a half of turbulent relations between the city’s police department, its residents, and elected officials. This unrest was in large part due to the murder of George Floyd and the civil unrest that soon followed. What also followed was a vilification of law enforcement with city council members standing behind big letters reading DEFUND, a rise in violent crime, and a shortage of police officers to respond..
With this issue unfolding in our own backyard where we live and work, the K2 team felt compelled to get involved. We were proud to work to educate and mobilize the public in support of the city’s police, first responders, and emergency personnel and against the defund the police movement. We understood the ballot question would provide two very different paths for the city and the rest of the state depending on the results of the vote.
Through an aggressive earned media and digital ad campaign, we delivered a message of support for law enforcement that resonated with residents of Minneapolis. Too many questions were left unanswered of what this new department of public safety would look like, but two things were abundantly clear 1) the measure would’ve eliminated city charter requirement on the number of uniformed police officers that the city must employ 2) the city council, not the police chief, would oversee public safety.
We capitalized on these holes in the proposed measure in our messaging. We found that residents believed in the need for police reform in the form of a well trained and transparent police force, but they worried about the impact this ballot measure would have on underserved and minority communities, emergency response times, and the safety of social workers responding to incidents unprotected.
We educated voters in Minneapolis about these concerning consequences of dismantling the police, and we shared with citizens across Minnesota and the country that this dangerous movement would spread to other communities if the ballot measure was successful.
On election night we received the result we hoped for with the dismantling of the police question failing by a healthy margin. The largest margins of defeat for the measure were in solidly minority parts of the city, those who have depended on the police for support during the crime wave we’ve been experiencing.
While we were glad to have played a part backing our law enforcement and preventing the city from taking a turn for the worse, there is much more work to be done in the way of public safety in Minneapolis. In this new year, K2 is excited to be partnering with new clients invested in the public safety of Minneapolis and the support of our men and women in law enforcement. We look forward to working towards a city where all residents of Minneapolis feel safe and secure where they live and work.