A Fledgling Idea
We were first introduced to the idea of professional liability insurance for police officers years ago. At the time, we loved the idea and thought it could serve as an effective reform that would hold police accountable for their actions, but pondered how to make it a reality.
In 2010, we focused on working towards making the Police Insurance Amendment a reality. Our original group first put together original wording and began collecting signatures on a petition to get the measure on the ballot. Despite being quite naïve about the process at the time, we had some measure of success, collecting almost 3000 signatures before a fire at Walker Church destroyed all our signatures.
Formation of the Campaign
Undaunted, we decided to start again, spending significant time rewording the original wording in consultation with attorneys, labor exports and insurance professionals.
Throughout the process, we worked to ensure the Police Insurance Amendment would satisfy the following conditions: Does the Police Insurance Amendment comply with state and federal laws? Will this assist survivors of police brutality and the attorneys who represent them? Will this benefit officers who don’t engage in misconduct? Will this prevent the Police Federation and the city from continuing to let rogue officers "off the hook?"
We learned from our past mistakes: we formed a campaign committee to oversee our effort—a legal requirement for all ballot initiatives.
This was the beginning of our campaign—the Committee for Professional Policing—a distinct organization with our own leadership, volunteers, and focus. After several months and as a newly-formed campaign, we began collecting signatures again, securing about 1100 signatures before the city announced that they would be adopting a plain language charter. Our signatures became invalid and we further modified the Police Insurance Amendment language and started the signature gathering process—yet again.
"We have also distributed tens of thousands of flyers, appeared on primetime cable television shows, and we have been featured in local and national media."
Since then, we have attended festivals, lectures, protests, political caucuses, and all manner of events—anywhere we could collect signatures in the aim of securing a place on the ballot for the Police Insurance Amendment. We also have a very active social media presence. The third time really is the charm.
A Wave of Success
Securing placement on the ballot requires collecting the signatures of Minneapolis registered voters equal to 5% of voters in the most recent election, or approximately 7000 signatures. On Thursday, June 2nd, we delivered over 12,000 petition signatures to the City Clerk—more than enough to earn a spot on the November 8th ballot. To avoid a challenge by the city of our signatures, we wisely validated all signatures against the voter registration list and kept meticulous records. Our focus has now turned to winning the election in November: we are building campaign infrastructure and securing funding in preparation for extensive canvassing and phone banking efforts. We do things differently than most campaigns: our plan is to educate voters through one-on-one interactions, not expensive ad buys days before the election.
"Beyond ensuring this passes at the polls and is successfully implemented in Minneapolis, we are committed to assisting others to achieve police insurance amendments across the country. This is truly the beginnings of a national movement towards real police accountability."
As we continue to campaign in Minneapolis, we carefully document our actions and decisions so that we can create a roadmap for other communities to follow in pursuing this solution in their own areas. All eyes are on us and on Minneapolis. Together, let's prove that real police accountability is possible and create a professional, responsible, and insured police force that works for all of us.
A Lengthy Legal Battle
In our effort to get the Police Insurance Amendment on the ballot in November, the City of Minneapolis forced our campaign into a lengthy legal battle that eventually reached the Minnesota Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the court decided that politics are more important than the law.
"The city’s arguments were dishonest, and the court bought into them. Sadly, the Minneapolis city establishment won’t allow ordinary folks to participate in their government. But we’re not done. There is overwhelming demand by communities across the United States to end the harm caused by police misconduct and taxpayers are sick of bailing out brutal officers."