BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Minnesota applaud the Brooklyn Center City Council for approving a groundbreaking budget resolution Monday night that takes a big step toward improving public safety for all residents.
The amended budget will spend about $1 million to begin the process of creating a new crisis response team, hiring a director of a new Department of Public Safety, studying traffic enforcement by civilians rather than armed police, gathering resident input to ensure the new department meets community needs, creating policies to implement this new direction in public safety, and funding community and youth programming. The effort follows the police killing of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop and the Kobe Dimock-Heisler killing in 2019, which happened while he was experiencing a crisis. The city will fund it through a combination of freezing three vacant officer positions, grants, and other funding options.
“The Brooklyn Center City Council’s vote is a big step toward attaining true public safety for all residents,” said ACLU-MN Interim Executive Director Ben Feist. “Budgeting for an expanded public safety system will allow the city to take into account the needs of the community and the very real substance abuse and mental health issues people face, rather than relying on an armed-police-only model that too often leads to over-policing and police violence against BIPOC people.”
“The Brooklyn Center City Council has taken an important step that will allow it to follow through on numerous commitments it made when passing the public safety resolution in May. Community members have made it clear that the current model of public safety relies solely on armed-police responses and is not working for the community, and now the city has taken steps to fund alternatives and expand public safety,” said Paige Fernandez, senior policing policy advocate with the national ACLU. “The money set aside last night will focus on a proactive approach to safety and health that prioritizes support for the community, moving away from reactive and punitive measures. It is critical the city puts the funding directly toward the resolution as written. The ACLU is committed to employing this strategy to rethink public safety throughout the country.”
The city council previously passed a resolution in support of this new direction for public safety. The budget is a key step in making these promises a reality. The ACLU and ACLU of Minnesota will keep watching to ensure the funding is spent expanding public safety for all.